HC Deb 11 June 1980 vol 986 cc555-7
38. Mr. Pollock

asked the Solicitor-General for Scotland what is the policy of the Crown Office in relation to prosecutions for incest.

The Solicitor-General for Scotland

The policy is to prosecute in the High Court of Justiciary those cases where the evidence is sufficient, subject to considerations of compassion and humanity relative to the particular circumstances of each case.

Mr. Pollock

I thank my hon. and learned Friend for that reply. Is he aware that there is considerable disquiet, both in legal circles in Scotland and among the public, about the currrent state of our law? Is he prepared to consider possible reforms in this highly delicate matter?

The Solicitor-General for Scotland

Yes. The Law Commission recently issued a paper to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on the law of incest. The law of incest, in my view, is in an unsatisfactory state. I am anxious that there should be protection not only for those related by blood, but particularly for those who are in a position of trust where that trust is broken. A reform of the law in Scotland is overdue, and I hope that we shall be able to undertake it.

Mr. Harry Ewing

Is not the answer that the Solicitor-General has given a good reason for the Government maintaining the present position, as contained in clause 22 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill, and not introducing the amendments that we persuaded the Minister to withdraw? I am sure that the Solicitor-General knows that I mean that where children are involved in High Court cases the press should not be allowed to publish the names of the children.

The Solicitor-General for Scotland

No. Those are the sorts of cases in which the matter would not be reported under the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill. However, the plea comes oddly from the hon. Gentleman, who as a Minister, introduced four categories of person into the law of Scotland for the first time, namely, those who could marry but would commit incest if they had intercourse, those who could not marry but would not commit incest if they had intercourse, and those who both would and would not.

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