HC Deb 07 February 1956 vol 548 cc1502-3
50. Mr. Steele

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is aware that all legal practitioners in Dunbartonshire have resolved not to appear as poor law agents for any accused person appearing before the court on summary complaints; and what action he proposes to take.

Mr. J. Stuart

My attention has been drawn to the resolution passed by the Faculty of Procurators of Dunbartonshire. At present the obligations of solicitors to act gratuitously in criminal cases in the sheriff courts appear, under the Sheriff Courts (Scotland) Act, 1907, to be matters for the sheriff. I have, however, been in touch with the Law Society of Scotland and have asked them to discuss the position in Dunbartonshire further with the Faculty.

Mr. Steele

Is the Minister aware that this is another indication of how unsatisfactory the position is, and that criminal cases ought to be brought into legal aid as well as the others? Will he press on to see that a satisfactory solution is found, as in this case the innocent as well as the guilty have suffered?

Mr. Stuart

As I have said, it appears to be a matter for the sheriffs, but I have asked the Law Society of Scotland to look into it.