HC Deb 06 March 2001 vol 364 c138
24. Mr. Malcolm Savidge (Aberdeen, North)

If she will make a statement on the number and types of devolution issue cases that have been intimated to her. [150758]

The Advocate-General for Scotland (Dr. Lynda Clark)

As at the end of February, more than 1,200 devolution issues have been intimated to me. The vast majority have focus on the right to a fair trial, which is enshrined in article 6 of the European convention on human rights. Some of the matters raised include delay and the question of a trial within a reasonable time; the right to an independent and impartial tribunal; prejudicial pre-trial publicity; cases under the Road Traffic Acts concerning the presumption of innocence; and legal aid questions. Devolution issues concerning convention rights other than those in article 6 have also been raised.

Mr. Savidge

I thank my hon. and learned Friend for that response. Will she tell the House which cases have been referred to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council?

The Advocate-General

So far, seven cases have been referred. They are Brown, the drink-driving case; Montgomery, the pre-trial publicity case; McIntosh, the case relating to the confiscation of criminal assets; McLean, the case involving fixed legal aid fees; Anderson, the mental health case; the temporary sheriffs case; and the district court challenges.

Dr. Julian Lewis (New Forest, East)

Will the Advocate-General tell us whether any case has been referred to her on the issue of devolution, particularly on the constitutionality of an electoral system that allows the Labour party, which came first in the elections to the Scottish Parliament to share power with the Liberal Democrat party, which came a poor fourth?

The Advocate-General

Under the Scotland Act 1998, any member of the public who is litigating is entitled to raise a devolution issue if they can plead themselves into the Act. I have not noticed the Conservatives in Scotland making such a plea, but if they do, I will consider it.

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