HC Deb 04 March 1964 vol 690 cc1298-9
32. Mr. Lawson

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he expects the Committee under the chairmanship of Lord Grant, which is inquiring into sheriff courts, to make its Report.

Lady Tweedsmuir

As my right hon. Friend, the Leader of the House, said in a reply to the hon. Member for Glasgow, Central (Mr. McInnes), on 14th February, it is not yet known when this Committee will report.

Mr. Lawson

Could the noble Lady say how often up to the present this Committee has met? Could she say how it is taking evidence and what opportunities local people who use the courts have of submitting evidence? Could she tell me to what extent this Committee will inquire into the problem of the very large numbers of persons in Scotland who have been held, and seem still to be held, in prison awaiting trial?

Lady Tweedsmuir

The Committee was appointed in early August and it held its first meeting at the end of August. It is now asking for and receiving a large amount of written evidence, so far from organisations representing the courts, the legal profession, local authorities, the T.U.C., insurance interests, and the police. I am sure that it would be very glad to receive individual representations as well. As to the last part of the supplementary question, about untried prisoners, the hon. Member will know that the Lord Advocate and the Secretary of State for Scotland are analysing the recent figures and, if necessary, will refer the matter to the Grant Committee.

Mr. Hector Hughes

Does not the noble Lady realise that this is a very urgent matter, affecting the social life of Scotland, and that the matter should be expedited, not put aside in the casual way the Government appear to be doing?

Lady Tweedsmuir

There is certainly no casual manner about this inquiry, which has very wide terms of reference, and which I am sure will report as soon as possible.