HC Deb 07 February 1996 vol 271 cc221-4W
Mr. Worthington

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) on what grounds he proposes to transfer the jurisdiction of Bearsden district court to Glasgow; [13474]

(2) what procedure will govern the closure of Bearsden and Milngavie district court. [13469]

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

There is no proposal to transfer the Bearsden and Milngavie commission area to Glasgow. From 1 April 1996 it will form part of the new East Dunbartonshire commission area. East Dunbartonshire council will then assume responsibility

for the district court for that commission area. It is for local authorities to determine where district courts sit within commission areas.

Mr. Worthington

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) if he will extend the consultation period on his proposal to change the jurisdiction of Dumbarton sheriff court in order to allow local hon. Members and others to see the consultation paper on this subject; [13466]

(2) what statistical analysis he has carried out to assess how much civil work is carried out from Bearsden and Milngavie in Dumbarton sheriff court; and what would be the impact on Glasgow sheriff court if the proposals in his consultation paper were enacted; [13470]

(3) what are the financial consequences of the proposals contained in the consultation paper on the jurisdiction of Dumbarton sheriff court; [13472]

(4) with which bodies he has consulted on his proposals to change the jurisdiction of Dumbarton sheriff court; for what reasons local hon. Members were not consulted; and what is his policy in this respect on the removal of Bearsden and Milngavie from the jurisdiction; [13473]

(5) how many courts he proposes to construct in the new Dumbarton sheriff court; what area they will serve; and what changes he has made to his plans in this respect in the last six months; [13475]

(6) what will be the change in the number of sheriffs at Dumbarton sheriff court arising from moving Bearsden and Milngavie out of the sheriffdom. [13471]

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

A consultation paper on proposals to adjust sheriffdom and sheriff court district boundaries following the introduction of the new local authorities was issued by the Scottish courts administration on 29 December 1995 in order to provide information to allow officials to put forward advice to Scottish Office Ministers.

The paper went to sheriffs principal, the Sheriffs' Association, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, the new local authorities, police forces, the Crown Office, the Scottish Court Service and interested bodies and organisations such as the Law Society of Scotland and the Scottish Consumer Council. Responses were invited by 2 February 1996. Copies of the paper and the full list of consultees have been placed in the House of Commons Library.

The proposals in the consultation paper cover the whole of Scotland. In respect of the current jurisdictions of Glasgow and other sheriff courts in the area, views were sought on the prospect of transferring Bearsden and Milngavie to Glasgow's jurisdiction and transferring the area around Rutherglen from Glasgow's jurisdiction to that of Hamilton sheriff court. The net effect would be a small reduction in the workload of Glasgow sheriff court and a small reduction in the workload of Dumbarton sheriff court. No immediate change to the permanent shrieval complement at either court would be required. Any change to requirements for the proposed new sheriff court at Dumbarton will be considered during the detailed planning process.

No ministerial decisions have yet been made in terms of the Sheriff Courts (Scotland) Act 1971, and change to sheriff court districts or to the boundaries of sheriffdoms required to be made by statutory instrument. Changes to the boundaries of sheriffdoms require an affirmative resolution in both Houses.

Mr. Worthington

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) what inspection service exists to assess the quality of service at Glasgow and Dumbarton sheriff courts; [13468]

(2) if he will make a statement on the (a) relative workloads, (b) waiting times and (c) quality of service of Glasgow and Dumbarton sheriff courts. [13467]

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

Waiting periods for summary criminal and civil business for Glasgow and Dumbarton sheriff courts and performance of these courts against the quality of service target set for the Scottish Court Service as at 31 December 1995 are shown in the following table:

Summary criminal waiting period Ordinary civil waiting period (proofs/debates) Percentage of quality targets achieved1
Glasgow Sheriff Court 21 weeks 12 weeks/8 weeks 97.2
Dumbarton Sheriff Court 10 weeks 12 weeks/6 weeks 100
1 24 individual quality of service targets are set for staff in the sheriff court. They are detailed in the framework document of the Scottish Court Service which is available in the Library.