HC Deb 16 May 1958 vol 588 cc830-2
Mr. M. Clark Hutchison

I beg to move, in page 13, line 39, at the end to insert: (2) A reference in any enactment to a solicitor's being entitled to practise in the Court of Session or in any other court, or to act in any matter, by reason of his being enrolled in, or of his having subscribed, the list of solicitors practising in the Court of Session or the list of solicitors practising in any sheriffdom shall be construed as a reference to his being entitled so to practise or act by reason of his name being included in the appropriate list furnished under the foregoing subsection. I should like to give the following explanation of this rather technical matter. Under Section 20 of the Solicitors (Scotland) Act, 1933, a list of solicitors practising in the Court of Session is kept by the principal clerk, and also a list of the solicitors practising in every Sheriff Court is kept by the sheriff's clerk. These various lists or rolls are signed by the solicitors who wish to practise. For ease of administration, this arrangement is being abolished under the present Bill, and it will be for the Law Society to furnish annually to the clerk of the Court of Session or to each sheriff's clerk a list of the solicitors who will be practising.

This is the rather complicated second point. Under certain Statutes, such as the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act, 1887, and certain other rather old Acts, authority is given to solicitors enrolled on a particular sheriff clerks' rolls to carry out certain acts and serve notices. That system will be inconsistent with the practice which, we hope, will obtain after this Bill becomes law, and the purpose of the Amendment is to give solicitors the power to carry out the various duties which I have mentioned by virtue of having their names on the Law Society's roll, which the Law Society will keep and furnish.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. M. Clark Hutchison

I beg to move, in page 14, line 1, after "thirty-nine," to insert: after the words 'Faculty of Advocates' there shall be inserted the word 'or', the words 'or a notary public' shall be omitted, and". I am afraid that this is another technical matter. It is very short, and I should like to explain it to the Committee. Section 39 of the Solicitors (Scotland) Act, 1933, provides that a person who is not a member of the Faculty of Advocates, a duly certified solicitor or a notary public and who acts in conveyancy matters or in court proceedings shall be guilty of an offence. The purpose of the Amendment is to delete the reference to notaries public in that Section.

It should be explained that the inclusion of a notary public within the Section is now obsolete as there are no notaries public in Scotland who are not solicitors. Under Section 2 of the Law Agents (Scotland) Act, 1896, no notaries per se could be created after 14th August, 1897. The Amendment is a purely technical matter.

Amendment agreed to.

Schedule, as amended, agreed to.

Third Schedule agreed to.

Bill reported, with Amendments; as amended, considered.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Bill be now read the Third time.—[Mr. M. Clark Hutchison.]

1.42 p.m.

Mr. Malcolm MacPherson

I do not want to make a long speech, but I wish to congratulate the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. M. Clark Hutchison) on having sponsored the Bill and the Law Society on having produced it. It seems to me to be a useful Bill, but I will not go into detail about it.

I should like to make a comment, however, on the way in which the Bill has gone through Parliament with very little discussion either in another place or in this House. I am sorry about that, and I wish that it had gone, under the ordinary procedure for a Scottish Bill, through the Scottish Standing Committee. The main point in the Bill is one upon which we have not touched in our discussions this morning, and I think, possibly, I might mention it on Third Reading in connection with the comment I have made.

The major point in the Bill is contained in the Clause concerned with solicitors' accounts. The Bill makes a very considerable and very desirable reform in that connection. I think it is desirable that there should be wider discussions in the House on a matter which so closely affects the public interest. For that reason, I am sorry that we have dealt with the Bill on such a narrow basis. Nevertheless, it seems to me to be a good Bill, I wish the Law Society well with it, and I congratulate the hon. Member.

Mr. M. Clark Hutchison

May I thank the hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs (Mr. Malcolm MacPherson)? I agree with his comment; I should have liked a longer discussion, which might have been suitable for the Scottish Standing Committee. I also agree with him that the proposed rules for the keeping of accounts are good and overdue, and I hope that they will protect the public from any possibility of damage or loss. I thank him for his interest in the Bill and for the help which he has given to me.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed, with Amendments.