HC Deb 01 July 1996 vol 280 cc546-7
30. Mr. Dalyell

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what is the mechanism for liaison between his Department and the Crown Office m Edinburgh. [33688]

Mr. Streeter

The Lord Chancellor's Department and the Crown Office consult each other as necessary where they share an interest.

Mr. Dalyell

I gave notice of this question to the Lord Chancellor this morning. I meant no offence to the Parliamentary Secretary. Lord Mackay knows a good deal about the Scottish situation and about Lockerbie, and is a senior member of the Cabinet.

Will the Government consider the offer made at the weekend by the Foreign Affairs Minister of South Africa, Mr. Nzo, to host an inquiry into Lockerbie in South Africa?

Mr. Streeter

We are grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving us notice of his supplementary question, which Lord Mackay shared with me this morning.

We believe that a trial anywhere in any third country is unacceptable, for reasons well known to the hon. Gentleman. Here are two of them: it would be wrong to allow those accused of terrorist offences to dictate where and how they are tried; and it would not be right to accept the proposition that a trial in Scotland would not be fair.

Mr. Hawkins

Can my hon. Friend inform the House whether the liaison between the Crown Office in Edinburgh and his Department would be affected in any way if there were a Scottish Parliament with tax-raising powers? The Labour party is now in such confusion between its Front Bench, its Back Benches and all other parts of the party about the matter that it is important to know the answer to that question.

Mr. Streeter

My hon. Friend is on to a good point. The liaison between my office and the Crown Office in Edinburgh would clearly be confused if there were a tax-raising Scottish Parliament. I wonder whether the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell), who tabled the question, will continue to persevere with probing his colleagues about the West Lothian question, to which we have had no satisfactory response.

Dr. Godman

On the very serious question of Lockerbie and leaving aside party political scoring, does the Lord Chancellor agree with the oral statement made by the Prime Minister in this place three months ago in response to a question of mine that such a trial will take place in Scotland at the High Court?

Mr. Streeter

The hon. Gentleman is concerned about the last exchange, but he should read the question on the Order Paper: it is about consultation between my Department and the Crown Office in Edinburgh. On the hon. Gentleman's substantive question, I know of no knowledge to the contrary.

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