HC Deb 08 April 1981 vol 2 cc951-2
42. Mr. Ancram

asked the Solicitor-General for Scotland how many prosecutions have been abandoned or delayed as a result of industrial action in the Scottish courts over the last month.

The Solicitor-General for Scotland

This information is long and complicated and I shall write to my hon. Friend, but in Edinburgh and Glasgow, where the strike is continuing, the number of cases that have been abandoned or delayed as a result of industrial action in these courts is about 1,600. A proportion of these cases, which includes cases of drunk driving, driving while disqualified and driving with no insurance, is likely to be lost.

Mr. Ancram

I am grateful for the answer. Will my hon. and learned Friend agree that, industrial action of this sort is an impediment to justice and a disgrace upon those whose duty it is to serve the courts, not to close them? Does my hon. and learned Friend agree that while justice is necessarily blind, it should not be silent?

The Solicitor-General for Scotland

Yes, I greatly regret that the action should be taken. I remind those who are taking it that they are riot just employees. They have statutory duties which they ought to perform, and the scuttling of justice does nothing for those involved in the dispute.

Mr. Dewar

Does the hon. and learned Gentleman recall that in March 1979, when the emergency legislation to deal with the last courts strike was being discussed, he described the strikers as highwaymen and mobsters and compared them with torturers? He suggested that the strike should be made illegal. Are those still his opinions? As he violently attacked the then Government for delaying the introduction of emergency legislation, when will his Government introduce such legislation to deal with the present action?

The Solicitor-General for Scotland

I have no reason to withdraw anything I said during the last dispute. I confirm that those who serve the courts have a number of statutory duties and a duty to undertake them

Mr. Budgen

Are there any plans in Scotland for the abandonment of prosecutions primarily in the interests of good race relations?

The Solicitor-General for Scotland

No, Sir.