HC Deb 30 June 1936 vol 314 cc218-9
40. Mr. M. MacMILLAN

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware of the appointment as sheriff-substitute in the Isle of South Uist of a licensed hotel proprietor; and whether, in view of the undesirability that such a person should hold this office where he may have cases to deal with in which he may be himself interested as a seller of intoxicating liquor in cases relating to the manner of conducting sale of liquor, and to drunkenness, etc., he will have the appointment cancelled without any reflection on the personal integrity of the gentleman concerned?


The appointment to which the hon. Member refers is that of an honorary and not a salaried sheriff-substitute, and is not within my jurisdiction. In terms of Section 17 of the Sheriff Courts (Scotland) Act, 1907, the appointment of honorary sheriffs-substitute is made by the sheriff of the county and continues during his pleasure. As honorary sheriffs-substitute only act on rare occasions when the salaried sheriff-substitute and the sheriff are unable to attend in court, and as it is a principle of Scots law that judges do not act in cases where they have any personal interest, the risks apprehended in the question do not appear to arise.


Does the right hon. Gentleman not agree that there is a serious principle involved; and is it not possible that in the district where the honorary sheriff-substitute takes charge he may be called upon to act in cases of drunkenness or cases relating to liquor sale; and will the right hon. Gentleman use his influence to do away with a system allowing such practices?


As I have already told the hon. Member, unless legislation is introduced I have no power to vary the decision.