HC Deb 12 November 1975 vol 899 c1526
40. Mr. Canavan

asked the Lord Advocate what are the responsibilities of his Department with regard to the operation of the district courts.

The Lord Advocate

My Department is concerned solely with prosecution in the district courts.

Mr. Canavan

Does not my right hon. and learned Friend have any responsibility, even in an advisory capacity, for the training of lay magistrates? Can he not ensure that lay magistrates are adequately trained and are also familiar with the social background of the accused people with whom they deal, particularly in view of the recent case at Kilsyth District Court where one of my constituents, a young boy of very modest means, was fined the incredible sum of £40 for the comparatively trivial offence of stealing 2 lb. of potatoes.

The Lord Advocate

I am aware of the case to which my hon. Friend refers. However, he must know that if a convicted person feels that his sentence has been unduly harsh or oppressive he has a remedy and method of appeal to the Appeal Court, which may be able to grant him a remedy.

Of course I have an interest in training, but that is different from a duty in regard to it. The training of justices is a duty placed upon the local justices committee and the arrangements for training have to be approved by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland.