HC Deb 10 July 1974 vol 876 cc1354-7
47. Mr. MacArthur

asked the Lord Advocate when he will next meet the Scottish Law Commission.

The Lord Advocate

The date of my next formal meeting with the Scottish Law Commission has not yet been fixed. The exchange of views and information, however, does not depend solely upon such meetings, and less formal exchanges take place as circumstances may require.

Mr. MacArthur

During the Lord Advocate's formal or informal exchanges with the Law Commission will he seek its views on the present powers of the children's panels? Is he aware of the feeling that the panels' powers are often thought to be over-adequate, or inadequate, and that some middle sanction is now required to combat growing vandalism in Scotland?

The Lord Advocate

My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland—the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes)—in reply to Question No. 5, dealt specifically with the administrative arrangements which are available under existing legislation. The hon. Gentleman asked me about future legislation. He should give attention to the existing provisions in the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968. For example, in Section 43(4) of that Act there is a provision, which he has not mentioned, for intermediate attendance or residence for 21 days for investigation. There is also provision in Section 44(1) for supervision. They are flexible intermediate methods of treatment, which the hon. Gentleman seems to ignore.

Mr. Barry Henderson

Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman expect to hear from the Scottish Law Commission when he next meets it that it is downright disappointed with the extremely complacent attitude shown by his right hon. and hon. Friends following the answers given earlier this afternoon about List D schools? Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman consider the problems of law which arise as a consequence of matrimonial disputes, particularly when there has been a history of violence?

The Lord Advocate

I know that my right hon. and hon. Friends will take note of the hon. Gentleman's first point. That is a matter which does not fall directly within my sphere of jurisdiction or within the jurisdiction of the Scottish Law Commission.

I am hoping to meet the Chairman of the Scottish Law Commission towards the end of this month, and among the matters that will be discussed is an active programme of law reform, which is already under way with this Government.

Mr. David Steel

When the right hon. and learned Gentleman meets the Chairman of the Scottish Law Commission will he be able to give the commission any assurance, with his helpful nature, about the reform of divorce law in Scotland, for which the commission has been pressing and which, I believe, has growing public support?

The Lord Advocate

Of course, matters of matrimonial law reform cover a very wide range. The hon. Gentleman may have in mind divorce law reform. The hon. Gentleman referred to matrimonial law generally, and that includes divorce. With regard to divorce, I refer the hon. Gentleman to answers given on that subject in recent weeks. I have nothing to add to those answers. Matrimonial law reform generally, and not merely divorce, is a matter under consideration by the Scottish Law Society in a remit covering not only matrimonial law in the wider sense, but family law generally.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

In view of concern in Scotland about crimes of violence—concern that is shared on both sides of the House—when the right hon. and learned Gentleman next meets the Scottish Law Commission or any of its committees will he ascertain when the Thomson Committee is likely to bring forward its recommendations relating to the powers of search for offensive weapons?

The Lord Advocate

The hon. Gentleman has raised an important matter in which I have a deep interest. I was fortunate enough to attend a meeting of the Scottish Council on Crime this summer. The council is concerned with this matter. A report is expected or hoped for from the Thomson Committee before the end of the year. I have no doubt that this is one of the many matters that it will take up.