HC Deb 31 July 1962 vol 664 cc402-4
Q4. Mr. Hoy

asked the Prime Minister if he is aware that the office of Lord Justice Clerk for Scotland has now been vacant for more than three months; and when an appointment will be made.

The Prime Minister

The Government are fully aware of the importance of filling this vacancy before the court resumes after the vacation.

Mr. Hoy

Is not the Prime Minister aware that at the end of last year the Government asked the House for an extra judge to be appointed because of the heavy work in the Scottish courts? Why was not this appointment filled a long time ago? May we have an assurance that at least the Scottish courts will take priority over any political feeling there may be, no matter how embarrassing a by-election might be to the Government?

The Prime Minister

I am told that the courts in Scotland resume on 2nd October. We are fully aware of the importance of filling the vacancy before that date.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Can the Prime Minister assure us that he is thinking not of justice in Scotland but of political expediency, because under the usual arrangement would not the Lord Advocate be promoted? This would mean an extremely awkward by-election for the Government, which they would lose.

The Prime Minister

Although it is very common for the Law Officers to be appointed to these high posts, it is by no means a rule. I ask hon. Members to recall the office of Lord Chief Justice of England, where recently an appointment was made from the bench.

Mr. Willis

Is the Prime Minister aware that there has had to be a rearrangement of judges in the courts in Scotland, that work in the Court of Session is being very much held up as a result of this, and that many people in Scotland are very seriously concerned at the idea that their legitimate business in the courts has to be held up for reasons of political expediency?

The Prime Minister

No. Since I have said that the court is in vacation and does not resume its work until 2nd October and since I have said that the appointment will be made before that date, I do not think that there is anything in that supplementary question.

Mr. Gaitskell

Can the Prime Minister tell us the reasons for the long delay here?

The Prime Minister

These matters require careful consideration.