HC Deb 25 May 1908 vol 189 cc774-5
MR. COCHRANE (Ayrshire, N.)

I beg to ask the Secretary for Scotland whether, since he declined to give to Lady Gordon Cathcart, under The Trespass Act, 1865, the co-operation of the Crown authorities in maintaining law and order, his attention has been called to the fact that, in 1891, in similar circumstances in the Lews, the Law Officers advised that the Trespass Act of 1865 was applicable; whether it was, in point of fact, applied in that case; and whether he intends to follow this precedent and practice in the case of the Vatersay squatters.


May I also ask the Lord Advocate if, since 1890, there have been any cases analogous to the recent difficulties in Vatersay where the Law Officers have advised and the Courts have held that the provisions of the Trespass Act should be enforced?


asked if it was in order to state in a Question and Answer the nature of advice given by the Law Officers of the Crown, which should be treated as confidential?


The right hon. Gentleman is free to decline to answer the Question if he chooses.


The only occasion upon which the application of the Act of 1865 to circumstances in any way analogous to the Vatersay case was in 1891 when after much difference of opinion a prosecution was instituted before the sheriff, but the question of its competency was not determined nor were the accused even represented by a law agent. The general practice and the law as laid down by the highest authorities has been to deal with such incidents by civil process. I refer to my answer on this subject on 6th April last. The law and practice has been followed in the present case and the whole incidents are now sub judice.