HC Deb 14 March 1962 vol 655 cc1307-9
29. Mr. Grimond

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland why no Scottish lawyer has been included in the delegation which is to argue the case before the International Commission of Inquiry arising from the incident involving the Scottish trawler "Red Crusader".

Mr. Maclay

The Commission is not concerned with any particular question of Scottish law and the composition of the United Kingdom delegation follows the usual pattern for cases before international tribunals. The counsel selected by the United Kingdom are highly expert in Admiralty and shipping matters, and the Chief Inspector of Sea Fisheries for Scotland, who is a member of the delegation, can provide the necessary technical advice.

Mr. Grimond

Is that not a lamentable Answer? As the senior Minister of the Crown, representing Scotland, is the right hon. Gentleman seriously telling the House that there is no Scottish interest in this case and that Scottish law has no view upon that interest? Furthermore, is he not aware that Scottish law is far more in tune with European law than the rather primitive form of jurisprudence which is practised in England?

Mr. Maclay

The right hon. Gentleman is very wrong in the strange implications he makes. I pointed out that there is no particular question of Scottish law, and that this is the practice which has been followed over many years in cases of this kind.

Mr. Hendry

Would not my right hon. Friend agree that under Article XIX of the Treaty of Union it is provided that there shall always be a Court of Admiralty continued in Scotland and that in that case Scotland is sui juris in matters of this sort? If a practice has grown up to the contrary, it is wrong and should be changed.

Mr. Maclay

My hon. Friend will realise that this is not a matter which has arisen in Scotland. It is an international matter.

Mr. Ross

Will the Secretary of State think this matter over again? After all, we should at least have one representative there. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we are quite prepared to spare the Lord Advocate? He would not be missed.

Mr. Maclay

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that, as I have said in my main Answer, the Chief Inspector of Sea Fisheries is advising on the technical issues, on which he is competent to advise.

Mr. Hector Hughes

Is not the Secretary of State aware that distinguished members of the Scottish Bar and other lawyers in Scotland, notably the professor of law at Edinburgh University, take a view quite different from that which he has expressed in his Answer? Will he, therefore, reconsider this matter in order to get himself on the right lines? Is he not aware that letters of protest have appeared in the Scotsman, notably from the professor of law at Edinburgh University, treating this as a humiliation to the lawyers of Scotland?

Mr. Maclay

The hon. and learned Gentleman is quite wrong to consider this a humiliation to anybody. I deplore—I say this deliberately—any feeling in Scotland that when something happens which is not entirely liked, it is a humiliation to Scotland. That is quite wrong. This is a matter which has been very carefully considered, and it is believed that this is the best way to handle the situation.

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