HC Deb 02 February 1972 vol 830 cc437-9
31. Mr. Ronald King Murray

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what reports of Royal Commissions and of other official committees recommending reform of the law of Scotland have not yet been implemented; and what proposals the Government have for early implementation of any of these.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

With permission I will circulate a list in the OFFICIAL REPORT. Eleven reports are listed, three of which have been partly implemented and one of which will be implemented if Parliament approves the Maintenance Orders (Reciprocal Enforcement) Bill. Of the remainder some deal with matters now under review by the Scottish Law Commission.

Mr. Murray

Does not the Under-Secretary agree that his answer reveals a very unsatisfactory state of affairs and that law reform in Scotland, if it has not come to a standstill, has slowed down far too much? In these circumstances, what action do the Government propose to take?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

As the hon. and learned Gentleman, I am sure, realises, the reports in question cover a period of 14 years, and the greater number of them were submitted during the previous Government's term of office. Therefore I cannot accept that the present Government have been in any way dilatory in dealing with this matter. I share the hon. and learned Gentleman's concern that where reports are completed and recommendations are made we obviously want to implement them, but it depends to a great extent on the availability of parliamentary time.

Mr. Murray

What are the Government going to do about that?

Mr. Ross

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that I have already stated that I am prepared to give all co-operation for meetings of the Second Scottish Standing Committee on Wednesdays to deal with this kind of thing?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I note the right hon. Gentleman's remarks, but if he had behaved more constructively in relation to other legislation than he has done, there would have been a great deal more of benefit to Scotland and to the law of Scotland, but we know that his mind does not work that way.

Mr. Galbraith

Is it not very dangerous to suggest that merely because lawyers suggest there should be a change in the law, there should be a change in the law? One might as well suggest that company law should be changed because of suggestions by directors of companies. Surely these decisions should be taken in this place and not implemented merely

Not yet implemented Date of Report
Law Reform Committee: Enforcement of Maintenance Orders February, 1958
McKechnie Committee on Diligence June, 1958
Law Reform Committee: Civil Liability for Damage Done by Animals October, 1963
Law Reform Committee: Diligence June, 1964
Scottish Law Commission: "Divorce—the Grounds Considered" March, 1967
Kilbrandon Committee on the Marriage Law of Scotland March, 1969
Henry Committee on Registration of Title to Land in Scotland May, 1969
Scottish Law Commission: Companies (Floating Charges) (Scotland) Act 1961 January, 1970
Implemented in part only Date of Report
Halliday Committee on Conveyancing Legislation and Practice August, 1966
Grant Committee on the Sheriff Court March, 1967
Scottish Law Commission: Prescription and Limitation of Actions August, 1970