HC Deb 15 July 1981 vol 8 cc1174-6
41. Mr. John MacKay

asked the Solicitor-General for Scotland if he will review the guidance given by Crown Office on the non-harassment of travelling people.

The Solicitor-General for Scotland

I presume that my hon. Friend refers to the instruction which my right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate issued in January 1980 requiring procurators fiscal to report to the Crown Office any case reported by the police involving unauthorised encamping by travelling people, so as to enable my right hon. and learned Friend to consider each case personally. That instruction remains in full force.

Mr. MacKay

Will my hon. and learned Friend confirm that if a local authority provides a camp for the local people whom those of us from country areas prefer to call tinkers, others who come into the area and encamp by the roadside can be moved on, instead of riding on the back of a local authority that is doing its best by its travelling people but does not want to be burdened by outsiders?

The Solicitor-General for Scotland

I confirm that that is so. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State increased the grant for the provision of such sites to 100 per cent. If there are suitable sites, those who insist on parking in other places are prosecuted.

Mr. Canavan

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I delayed raising this point of order until the end of Question Time, because I did not want to lessen the time available to my hon. Friends for raising supplementary questions. As you will have noticed, Mr. Speaker, more than half of the questions on the Order Paper concern one issue—namely, the savage cuts in local government expenditure that are being perpetrated by this Tory Government. All of those questions relate to Labour-controlled local authorities. It may have escaped your notice, Mr. Speaker, that more than half of the Scottish constituencies are represented by Labour Members. Many of us have had great difficulty in raising this question on the Floor of the House. When such orders are debated on the Floor of the House, will you bear in mind the Government's discriminatory attitude and the way in which they pick on Labour-controlled authorities—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman knows that I have no intention of changing the long-established custom of calling hon. Members from alternate sides of the House. Any Speaker would be placed in an impossible situation if he were to respond to the hon. Gentleman's request.

Mr. John Home Robertson

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I appeal to you again—

Mr. Speaker

Order. I hope that the hon. Gentleman is not pursuing the same point, because I have finished with it and given a ruling.

Mr. Home Robertson

The point that I wish to draw to your attention, Mr. Speaker, is that of the 36 questions tabled to the Secretary of State for Scotland, only seven were tabled by Scottish Conservative Back Benchers—

Mr. Speaker

Order. Clearly, that is not a point of order.