§ 18. Mr. Hector Hughes
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is aware that the present manner in which the prerogative of mercy is exercised is unsatisfactory; and if he will take steps to arrange in such cases that reasons are published for advising agreement to or refusal of such exercise of the prerogative.
§ The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Michael Noble)
The answer to both parts of the Question is "No, Sir".
§ Mr. Hughes
Does not the Secretary of State realise that the present practice is inconsistent with the time-honoured system of trial by judge and jury, the giving of evidence publicly adduced and cross-examined, and that the present practice of acting on extrinsic evidence given to him secretly is entirely wrong ethically and inconsistent with British justice? Will he look into that, and see that this practice is changed, so that British traditions and British justice may be honoured in the future?
§ Mr. Noble
I am afraid that I cannot agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman that my practice is different from 202 that which has been carried out by my predecessors in the Scottish Office, or in the Home Office. I think the practice has been established by long tradition. I am carrying it out to the best of my ability.
§ Mr. Hughes
On a point of order. The Secretary of State obviously misunderstood my supplementary question. I did not say that he was carrying out a different practice. I said that his practice—
§ Mr. Speaker
Obviously, misunderstandings by Ministers, whether obvious or not, do not raise points of order.