HC Deb 22 March 1999 vol 328 cc9-10W
Dr. Moonie

To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement regarding the functions and responsibilities of the Lord Advocate in connection with the implementation of the Scotland Act 1998. [78277]

The Prime Minister

As a consequence of the new constitutional arrangements under the Scotland Act 1998, I have approved a reallocation of certain functions and responsibilities of the Lord Advocate to the Secretary of State and the Advocate-General for Scotland.

The overall intention of these transfers of functions and responsibilities is to ensure the appropriate distribution of the Lord Advocate's functions during the transitional period up to 1 July 1999 and after the Scottish Executive takes up its full powers on 1 July 1999. I am placing in the Library of the House a short paper which sets out the background to these transfers.

Copies of the Transfer of Functions (Lord Advocate and Secretary of State) Order 1999 (S.I. 1999/678) and the Transfer of Functions (Lord Advocate and Advocate-General for Scotland) Order 1999 (S.I. 1999/679), which were made by Her Majesty in Council on 10 March, have been laid before both Houses.

In addition to the transfer of statutory functions which would be effected by these transfer of functions orders, it is proposed that ministerial responsibility for the general oversight of certain branches of the law of Scotland will pass from the Lord Advocate to the Secretary of State on 19 May 1999, when the statutory functions are also transferred to them. No formal order is required to give effect to this transfer, which will be carried out by administrative arrangement.

The matters concerned are connected in whole or in part with the administration of justice in Scotland. They include the matters for which responsibility was transferred to the Lord Advocate in 1972, as referred to in a statement made by the then Prime Minister on 21 December 1972, Official Report, column 456, namely:

  1. (a) the jurisdiction and procedure of Scottish courts in civil proceedings;
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  3. (b) the law relating to the enforcement of the judgments of Scottish courts in civil matters and the recognition and enforcement of judgments of foreign courts, other than orders for the payment of maintenance;
  4. (c) the law of evidence;
  5. (d) the law relating to prescription and the limitation of actions;
  6. (e) the law relating to arbitration;
  7. (f) the law relating to fatal accident inquiries.

In addition, there will also be transferred to the Secretary of State the responsibilities of the Lord Advocate for various matters which are related to the matters mentioned above, namely;

  1. (a) the private international law of Scotland including functions in relation to the Hague Conventions dealing with International Child Abduction, Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Obligations, Taking of Evidence Abroad and Service of Process;
  2. (b) the jurisdiction and procedure of tribunals; and
  3. (c) mediation and
  4. (d) alternative dispute resolution.

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