HC Deb 19 June 1974 vol 875 cc476-7
45. Mr. Gordon Wilson

asked the Lord Advocate if he will recruit more legal staff for the Scottish Law Commission to allow it to make progress with its programme to reform the law of bankruptcy and to make progress with the third programme of law reform.

The Lord Advocate

It is clear that the level of staffing of the Scottish Law Commission must be kept under regular review. To this end it has been agreed that a staff inspection be carried out and work on this has already begun. It would be premature to say what changes may result from that exercise.

Mr. Wilson

May I express my gratitude to the right hon. and learned Gentleman for his interest in this question and for arranging for a review of staffing? Many people in Scotland feel that there are weaknesses in the law of Scotland which should be reviewed and, although we are conscious of the strengths of the legal system, any help which can be given to the Law Commission to proceed with its work should be given.

The Lord Advocate

I have no doubt that what the hon. Gentleman has said will be noted by members of the Scottish Law Commission and they will be glad to hear it. One of the more progressive moves of the last Labour Government was to set up the commission.

Mr. Grimond

Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree that one of the most pressing reforms of the law of Scotland is reform of the divorce law, which is often pressed by the hon. Member for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton)? Will he find time for such reform?

The Lord Advocate

I cannot give an undertaking that in the present Session time will be found for legislation of that kind, but I have noted what the right hon. Gentleman has said. Many other people have made similar comments.

Mr. William Hamilton

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that my Bill would have had a Second Reading last Friday had not the hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galbraith) made his first and last appearance at five minutes to 4 o'clock and called out "Object" at 4 o'clock?

The Lord Advocate

My hon. Friend and I were two of the people who noted that.

Mr. Ancram

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman accept the urgency of reforming the law of bankruptcy, especially in view of the economic policies which the Government are pursuing?

The Lord Advocate

I take this question seriously. The Conservative Party is obviously bankrupt of ideas, but no doubt the hon. Gentleman is aware of the discussions on reform of the law of bankruptcy in Scotland. The matter is under serious consideration. There are also discussions concerned with the international aspects of bankruptcy. I am glad to tell the hon. Gentleman that recently I have had discussions with a view to identifying and increasing the participation of the Scottish legal profession in the discussions.