HC Deb 05 March 1963 vol 673 cc184-5
10. Mr. Stodart

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works if he proposes to increase the number of courts in Scotland in which criminal cases may be heard.

Mr. Sharples

To relieve the present shortage of court accommodation in Parliament House, Edinburgh, we are examining in consultation with the Scottish Office the possibility of providing a further two courts in this building. Responsibility for the provision of Sheriff Court Houses rests with local Court House Commissioners.

Mr. Stodart

Since legal aid is likely before long to become available in Scotland in criminal cases, may I ask my hon. Friend to ensure that the implementation of this is not held up by the shortage of court accommodation? Can he say whether, apart from sheriff court accommodation, he is considering whether further accommodation is needed anywhere else other than in Parliament House, Edinburgh—for example, in the High Court in Glasgow?

Mr. Sharples

We are considering first and foremost the possibilities of these two courts in Edinburgh. I think that a question about legal aid would be properly put down to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland.

Mr. Hannan

Is the hon. Gentleman aware of the inordinate delay which takes place in the Glasgow courts? Between the date of the alleged offence and the pleading diet an interval of four months elapses, and between the pleading diet and the charge being dealt with another four months elapse. Will the hon. Gentleman consider this question not only in respect of Edinburgh but in respect of Glasgow and Aberdeen from where solicitors and witnesses go to Edinburgh instead of to courts at the seat of the incident?

Mr. Sharples

In so far as my right hon. Friend has responsibility in the matter, I will certainly look at that point.