HC Deb 28 February 1898 vol 54 cc242-3

moved the Second Reading of the Sheriffs-depute Tenure of Office (Scotland) Bill. He said: This Bill is rendered necessary by circumstances which hon. Members for Scotland know—the unfortunate case of sustained mental illness of one of the Sheriffs-depute. I do not think it is necessary particularly to refer to the circumstances, but I ought to explain that the law, as it stands, is this: that, so far as Sheriffs are concerned, they are only deprivable of office for misconduct, after trial before the Inner House of the Court of Session, but there was no way of getting a man out of office who happens to be stricken with mental disease. It is a melancholy fact that the only case of a Sheriff being so afflicted is that of Sir Walter Scott, in respect of whom, in his later years, it was necessary to bring forward a special Act, which now stands upon the Statute Book. Originally Sheriff-substitutes were appointed by the Sheriffs, and there was no need to provide for their case, because they were dismissible at will by the Sheriffs. But when the Sheriff-substitutes were put under the Act of 1876 under the Crown, then there was a provision that they should be removable from office for inability or misconduct. Accordingly we have found it necessary, under present circumstances, to assimilate the law, and the present Bill proposes to take the same procedure for Sheriff-deputes as for Sheriff-substitutes, with the additional safeguard for the position of these officers of having the Resolution of the Secretary of State put upon the Table of the House, and allowing a period during which it will be possible for a Member of either House to move an Address that the order for removal be not complied with. I am sure the House will feel that it has been rather an abuse that when the Sheriff was unable to fulfil his duties through mental disease there should be no available means of providing for another Sheriff.

Replying to MR. BUCHANAN,


said: I am informed that whenever a public official is superseded by unavoidable illness—and obviously that is the case to which the hon. Member refers—it is within the power of the Treasury to grant an allowance, and I have no doubt that in this matter they will be quite right in trusting the Treasury.

Read a second time.