§ Mr. William Hannan
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is aware that those appearing before a stipendiary magistrate are liable to the same penalties as those persons appearing before a sheriff and that those in the latter category are entitled to legal aid while those appearing before the stipendiary magistrate are not; and if, in order to eradicate this anomaly, he will make legal aid available in the stipendiary as well as the lay magistrates' courts.
§ Mr. Gordon Campbell
It is proposed to make legal aid available for criminal proceedings in all courts of summary jurisdiction, as financial resources permit. It is unlikely that this will be practicable before the introduction, following the reform of local government, of the new arrangements for dealing with criminal cases at present heard in the burgh court. Under the Legal Advice and Assistance Bill, presently before Parliament, legal advice will be available to a person summoned to appear before a burgh court, although he will not be entitled to facilities for legal representation in court.
I should add that the similarity in the powers of the sheriff and stipendiary magistrate does not apply generally but only where the sheriff is dealing with cases under summary procedure.