HC Deb 22 July 1985 vol 83 cc716-7
43. Mr. Dubs

asked the Attorney-General whether those who attend police stations voluntarily and the friends and relatives of those held by the police under the provisions of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 will have access to the 24-hour duty solicitor scheme.

The Solicitor-General (Sir Patrick Mayhew)

The 1984 Act provides for those attending police stations voluntarily to be covered by the 24-hour duty solicitor scheme. The Lord Chancellor plans to make an announcement about the scheme very shortly.

Mr. Dubs

The Minister's answer is welcome in relation to those attending voluntarily, but may I press him further about the friends and relatives of those who have been either arrested or who are attending voluntarily? Would it not be helpful to the police and the accused if the scheme were extended to include those people?

The Solicitor-General

I undertake to ensure that my noble Friend the Lord Chancellor takes note of the hon. Gentleman's remarks. I cannot say more than that today.

Mr. Bermingham

Does the Solicitor-General agree that for this scheme to work properly it is necessary for a duty solicitor, when in attendance at a police station, to inspect the detained person's book. thus allowing him to verify who is or is not detained at the police station at that time?

The Solicitor-General

There are many detailed matters to be considered in the implementation of the scheme and they are the subject of current consultation and consideration.

Mr. Nicholas Brown

Will the Solicitor-General tell the House about the remuneration of solicitors under the scheme? In particular, in order to attract the very highest calibre of solicitors, do the Government intend to give solicitors a pay rise in line with that proposed for the Lord Chancellor?

The Solicitor-General

The hon. Gentleman is in danger of forgetting that the Act under which the scheme will be introduced has for the first time brought police powers to detain without charge under a statutory absolute limitation and under judicial control. Those are great advances, and no Labour Home Secretary introduced a Bill to bring them about.

We certainly wish to ensure that the scheme provides maximum protection. We have difficult decisions to make, and we are in the middle of doing that.