HC Deb 19 July 1978 vol 954 cc532-3
32. Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

asked the Lord Advocate when he intends next to meet the Law Society of Scotland.

The Lord Advocate

I have arranged to meet the president of the Law Society of Scotland on 28th July 1978.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that the Law Society is experiencing considerable inconvenience because documents issued by Her Majesty's Stationery Office in London are available often 24 hours later in Scotland? Will he have a word with the Civil Service Minister to see whether documents issued in London can he made available in Scotland at the same time and not a good deal later, as appears to be the practice at present?

The Lord Advocate

I am not quite sure whether the hon. Member is complaining about or praising the Stationery Office. If documents issued in London are available in Scotland within 24 hours, I should have thought that that was a matter for praise. If he is saying that such documents should be issued at an identical time in Scotland and England, I shall have to look into the matter to see whether it is possible.

Mr. Grimond

When the Lord Advocate meets the Law Society, will he discuss the continuing shortage of lawyers in certain parts of Scotland? Will he ask the Law Society whether it could cut down the period of legal education and encourage firms to take on more apprentices?

The Lord Advocate

The right hon. Gentleman has taken up this matter with me on previous occasions. I have looked into it. However, it is very difficult to achieve a solution which does not involve some degree of direction of professionally qualified people. That, of course, would be unacceptable to the legal profession. The right hon. Member's last point is a good suggestion which I shall look into.

Mr. William Hamilton

When the Lord Advocate meets representatives of the Law Society, will he raise with them the question of the report of the Law Reform Commission in Scotland on wife battering and property rights in the matrimonial home? Will he indicate what steps he is taking to implement the proposals in the report?

The Lord Advocate

My hon. Friend is doubtless aware that implementation of the proposals mooted in this memorandum would not be my responsibility. That would be the responsibility of the Secretary of State for Scotland. The memorandum in question is merely a discussion document; it is not of the nature of firm recommendations or proposals.

Mrs. Winifred Ewing

When the Lord Advocate meets representatives of the Law Society, will he listen patiently to their concern about the injustice of the criminal summary appeals procedure where there is a rigid enforcement of the 10 days but where the legal aid certificate covers only the advice and not the very difficult area of legal expertise and drafting the grounds of the appeal? Does he agree that unrepresented appellants who are nervous and who do not have a copy of the judge's charge have the scales of justice weighted against them? What proposals does he offer us to put this matter right?

The Lord Advocate

I should be wise to say that I will listen.