HC Deb 15 July 1981 vol 8 cc1173-4
40. Mr. Dewar

asked the Solicitor-General for Scotland how many statutory offences he estimates have been time-barred by the six-months rule as a result of the disruption to Scottish courts resulting from the civil servants industrial action.

The Solicitor-General for Scotland

It is estmiated that at the end of June 1981 the cases of some 6,000 persons accused of statutory offences had been time-barred as a result of the disruption to Scottish courts resulting from the industrial action of civil servants.

Mr. Dewar

Do not those horrifying figures make the complacent answer given to my right hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan) scandalous? Will the Solicitor-General explain to the House why the Government are living with a situation in which in the same week a person may be prosecuted for drunk driving in Aberdeen and, if he is found guilty, be banned and face a heavy monetary penalty, while in Glasgow the same person would get off scot-free because of the Government's failure to bring in emergency legislation? Does that not bring the whole fabric of law and order into disrepute, and, as a professional man, is not the Solicitor-General ashamed of himself?

The Solicitor-General for Scotland

To answer the last part of the question first, no, I am not ashamed of myself. If there are any drunk drivers in Aberdeen, some are caught and acquitted, some are caught and convicted and some are not prosecuted. I greatly regret that the action of the civil servants results in a greater unevening of justice. That is a matter for which I should like them to have some moral responsibility and to return to work at once.

Mr. Ancram

Will my hon. and learned Friend confirm that in the case of the most serious statutory offences, such as causing death by dangerous driving, it is possible to proceed by way of petition and that such serious crimes will not be allowed to go unpunished?

The Solicitor-General for Scotland

I assure my hon Friend that no serious cases have been lost, although some have been delayed. In the High Court, I am glad to say that all the cases that were delayed in Glasgow have been, or are being, prosecuted.