HC Deb 16 June 1884 vol 289 cc399-400

asked the Lord Advocate, Whether He is aware that a former Procurator Fiscal of Lewis, who was also agent for the sole proprietor of the island, was removed from office because the then sheriff of the county considered the duties of the two offices incompatible; whether the present Procurator Fiscal is not also agent for the proprietor; and, whether the circumstances have changed; and, if not, whether he intends to make any representation on the subject to the proper authorities?


The gentleman who was sheriff of the county at the time referred to—1874—is now dead; and I am, therefore, unable to obtain precise information as to the reasons which induced him to recall the appointment of the Procurator Fiscal; but I believe that one reason—I cannot say that it was the sole reason—for his doing so was the fact th at the Procurator Fiscal was also the factor upon the estate—that is, manager for the proprietor. It is necessary to distinguish between factor and law agent; and I do not think that holding the office of law agent can have been considered by the sheriff to be incompatible with the office of Procurator Fiscal, because the gentleman whom he appointed on that occasion was, as I understand, then, as now, the local law agent of the proprietor. He was not, however, and is not, factor on the estate. I may add that at the date in question Procurators Fiscal held a commission from the sheriff, which he could recall at pleasure, and without reason assigned; but by the provisions of the Sheriff Court Act, 1877, they are only removable by one of Her Majesty's principal Secretaries of State for inability or misbehaviour, upon a report by the Lord President of the Court of Session and the Lord Justice Clerk.


asked the Lord Advocate, If he has observed that the Committee on Public Prosecutions in England has recommended that duties analogous to those of Procurators Fiscal in Scotland should be performed by the chief constables of counties in England; and, whether he has considered how far that might be adopted in Scotland in those districts where the duties are not sufficient to warrant the payment of a salary, to secure the whole service of a Procurator Fiscal, in place of allowing the combination of duties so incompatible as those of Public Prosecutor and private landlord's agent?


The question of the expediency of combining the duties of Procurator Fiscal and Chief Constable has been considered on several occasions, after consultation with the sheriffs of counties, during a number of years back; but the reasons against such a combination have been thought greatly to preponderate, and my own opinion on the point entirely coincides with that of my Predecessors.