HC Deb 31 July 1974 vol 878 cc793-4
44. Mr. Sproat

asked the Lord Advocate when he is next to meet representatives of the Law Society.

The Lord Advocate (Mr. Ronald King Murray)

I have an arrangement whereby I meet the President of the Law Society of Scotland every month to discuss current problems. In addition, I meet him on other occasions when he asks for a special meeting.

Mr. Sproat

Will the Lord Advocate confirm that the Law Society is currently studying ways of speeding up and improving our planning procedure? Does he think that the Law Society will soon be able to put its conclusions to him? If not, when does he expect the Law Society's conclusions to be reached? Will he say what proposals he would put to the Law Society for its consideration during its study of this important subject?

The Lord Advocate

In reply to the hon. Gentleman's last point, I should require notice of that question. As to the first part of his supplementary question I suggest that he has the wrong end of the stick. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland convened a working group in May of this year to examine the possibilities of simplification of planning procedures. The group has met twice and it is hoped to see the first fruits of its work this autumn.

Mr. Barry Henderson

When the Lord Advocate has met the Law Commission, has he discussed what would be an appropriate definition of Scottish citizenship? What problems might arise under the property laws connected with persons who may or may not meet the requirements of such a definition?

The Lord Advocate

That is not a matter which I have discussed with the Law Society of Scotland. The hon. Gentleman referred to the Law Commission, but in my answers I have been referring to the Law Society of Scotland. I do not think that anyone in the Law Society of Scotland or in my Office has any difficulty about knowing what determines whether a person enjoys Scottish citizenship.

Mr. Gray

When the right hon. and learned Gentleman next meets representatives of the Law Society of Scotland, will he discuss with them whether they feel that the powers held by them at present are sufficiently strong to deal with members of the legal profession who perhaps do not always maintain the highest standards of that profession?

The Lord Advocate

The hon. Gentleman may care to know that the Law Society itself, which is the best guardian of professional propriety, is concerned that an appropriate Solicitors (Scotland) Bill should be introduced at the earliest possible opportunity.

Mrs. Winifred Ewing

When the Lord Advocate next has a discussion with the representatives of the Law Society, will he once again consider that long-discussed matter of divorce in the sheriff courts?

The Lord Advocate

The hon. Lady is right to raise that matter, but it is a topic that is not without controversy. However, the subject is constantly under discussion in Scotland by the Law Society of Scotland and other bodies.