HL Deb 25 April 1972 vol 330 cc276-8

My Lords, I have it in command from Her Majesty the Queen to acquaint the House that Her Majesty, having been informed of the purport of the Administration of Justice (Scotland) Bill, has consented to place Her interest, so far as it is concerned on behalf of the Crown, at the disposal of Parliament for the purposes of the Bill.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a third time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 3a.—(Lord Polwarth.)

On Question, Bill read 3a.

Clause 1 [Extended powers of courts to order inspection of documents and other property, etc.]:

LORD POLWARTH moved, as an Amendment to the clause:

Page 2, line 32, leave out from beginning to end of line 33 and insert ("under this section in respect of a document or other property as it applied before the commencement of this section to an application for commission and diligence for the recovery of a document.")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move the Amendment standing in my name. Its purpose and effect can be explained very briefly. Clause 1 of the Bill confers on the Court of Session and the sheriff court extended powers to order the disclosure, production and preservation of documents or other property which are considered relevant to existing or proposed proceedings. It is intended that this provision should apply to the Crown. Subsection (4) by expressly applying the provisions of Section 47 of the Crown Proceedings Act 1947 makes it clear that this clause will enable documents in the possession of the Crown, other than those belonging to Her Majesty in her private capacity, to be recovered in the circumstances specified in the Bill. It was represented to us, however, that this left unclear the position of property other than documents, and this Amendment is designed to remove any doubt that there may be. As amended, the clause will clearly apply to all property in the possession of the Crown including, where appropriate, land.


My Lords, it will not surprise the noble Lord, Lord Polwarth, to know that I am not rising to oppose this momentous Amendment. It does, however, seem to me to be a suitable opportunity to offer the noble Lord congratulations on joining the "gang" opposite—if that is not a completely inappropriate way of describing them. My only regret in the matter is that his coming to the Scottish Office should deprive us of the services of the noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir, as a Scottish Minister. I should like to say that the pleasure in the noble Lord's joining the Government has been expressed outside the circle of his political friends.

I did not think that I had any influence with the present Prime Minister; but I am rather shaken in that belief because the noble Lord will recall that the last time that he and I took part in a debate I rather disagreed with him on the ground that he was proving too effective a spokesman for the Government. I did not expect that the Prime Minister would act so quickly on that. I hope that the noble Lord will find himself happy in his work in Scotland. I can assure him that in so far as he is not pursuing a particularly political line but is acting, as is usual with Ministers in the Scottish Office, in the interests of Scotland generally he will have support from this side of the House.


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, for his extremely kind remarks. I can assure him that at the time of which he spoke my expectation was even less than his. I hope that the kindness and cordiality with which I have been received will be continued through the months ahead whatever differences there may be.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Bill passed and sent to the Commons.