HC Deb 30 June 1982 vol 26 cc891-4
32. Mr. Canavan

asked the Solicitor-General for Scotland what subjects he expects to discuss at his next meeting with the Scottish Law Commission.

The Solicitor-General for Scotland

While I have no meetings arranged, I meet the Scottish Law Commission from time to time to discuss all aspects of law reform which it is presently considering.

Mr. Canavan

At the risk of being thrown out for being tedious and repetitive, may I ask the Solicitor-General for Scotland whether he will remind the Scottish Law Commission that we have been waiting for well over a decade for the publication of its Bill to abolish warrant sales? Is there any chance at all during the lifetime of this Parliament of such a Bill being sponsored by the Government to abolish once and for all this medieval and barbaric practice?

The Solicitor-General for Scotland

If nothing else, the hon. Gentleman has tenacity on this point. We are awaiting a report from the Scottish Law Commission on the law of diligence. The part that concerns the hon. Gentleman—his concern is shared on both sides of the House—is the aspect that relates to warrant sales. The hon. Gentleman probably recognises that every mature legal system in the world requires an end process to bring to a conclusion the differences between a creditor and a debtor. If the hon. Gentleman is particularly concerned about arrangements that are made for the public sale of the property in a debtor's home, I have some sympathy with that point. Personally, I await with great interest the proposals that will emanate from the Scottish Law Commission, which I expect will not be long in coming.

Mr. Speaker

Order. The answers are getting as long as the questions.

Mr. Ancram

Will my hon. and learned Friend discuss once again with the Law Commission the problems of cost and time arising out of accused persons changing their pleas to guilty on the day of the trial diet? Will he ask it to look again at the ways in which the whole paraphernalia of setting up a trial can be avoided when such a change of plea is likely?

The Solicitor-General for Scotland

The problem of people changing their pleas at a later date is essentially an administrative one. There are a number of schemes which both I and my noble and learned Friend the Lord Advocate are considering. I hope that that, in conjunction with a number of provisions of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 1980, will result in an acceleration in the times for diets.

Mr. Maclennan

Are the Government nearing completion of their consideration of the Law Commission's proposals on aliment and divorce, and do they consider that this is a subject on which they could bring forward proposals for reform?

The Solicitor-General for Scotland

It is recognised that the proposals of the Scottish Law Commission, to which the hon. Gentleman referred, are useful. They are being considered by the Scottish Home and Health Department and I await with interest its views on them.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

I shall allow an extra minute on this question.

Mr. Robert Hughes

What is the current state with regard to custody orders as between England and Scotland, and what progress has been made on an international convention for custody orders for children of divorced parents?

The Solicitor-General for Scotland

I remember your recent stricture, Mr. Speaker. It is recognised that there continue to be problems over custody orders, particularly in an international context. The Scottish Law Commission, my noble and learned Friend the Lord Advocate and myself are aware of the concern that this can cause to parents in such a difficult position.