HC Deb 17 April 1985 vol 77 cc258-9
35. Mr. Bill Walker

asked the Solicitor-General for Scotland how many times during the last 10 years his Department has requested or instructed a procurator fiscal to move to a new post.

The Solicitor-General for Scotland

During the past 10 years, four procurators fiscal, after discussion, were requested to relinquish their commissions granted under the provisions of the Sheriff Courts and Legal Officers (Scotland) Act 1927 and moved to other legal posts in the procurator fiscal service.

Mr. Walker

My hon. and learned Friend will be aware that the procurators fiscal are concerned about the pending legislation, which they see as something that will substantially erode their independence. Can he assure the House that when the legislation reaches the statute book it will not achieve that purpose?

The Solicitor-General for Scotland

It is intended by the proposal in the Bill to provide greater efficiency in the administration within the procurator fiscal service. Neither the Lord Advocate nor I have any oblique or sinister motive in introducing this change. We very much prize the independence that is enjoyed by procurators fiscal in Scotland. The last thing that we would want to do is to impinge in any way upon the integrity for which procurators fiscal are rightly renowned.

Mr. Donald Stewart

The hon. and learned Gentleman said that neither he nor the Lord Advocate had any oblique or sinister intention with regard to the legislation before the House. As the hon. and learned Gentleman is satisfied that the position of the procurators fiscal should be maintained, why is it necessary to make any change in the law? Is it not better to quieten all the doubts of the procurators fiscal by leaving matters as they stand?

The Solicitor-General For Scotland

The right hon. Gentleman will appreciate that in Scotland the procurator fiscal enjoys a position of considerable independence, in particular with regard to the police forces and the general public. However, for many years he has been answerable for his actions to the Lord Advocate. All that is sought to be achieved by the change is to make an improvement in the administration and organisation. As the right hon. Gentleman will appreciate, for example, someone who is a fiscal in Stornaway will have far fewer responsibilities than a fiscal in Glasgow. We are seeking this additional power to enable there to be smooth administration.