Licences (Poll, Newmilns And Darvel)
asked the Lord Advocate whether he has investigated the facts in regard to the poll in the burghs of Newmilns and Darvel; whether, in spite of the poll having been declared by the courts to be valid, licences have been renewed; and what action he proposes to take to ensure that effect shall be given to the will of the electors as declared in accordance with Statute?
The facts regarding the poll referred to by my hon. and learned Friend have had my careful consideration. My information is that, at the time the licences in question were renewed by the Licensing Court, the validity of the poll had not been decided, but its validity was subsequently declared by judgment of the First Division of the Court of Session. In regard to the latter part of the query, I am of opinion that the Lord Advocate has no power to take action.
Will not the right hon. Gentleman take steps to ensure that this law in Scotland will not be nugatory in future, it being quite clear that the licensing authorities are flouting the decision of the Supreme Court in Scotland?
I am afraid my hon. Friend cannot have heard my answer. I have fully considered the position, and, so far as I am concerned, I am of opinion that I can take no action. The remedy is to appeal to the courts of law in Scotland.
Sheriff Clerks And Procurator Fiscals
asked the Secretary for Scotland whether he is aware that the Treasury is at present preparing a scheme dealing with the Sheriff Clerks' and Procurator-Fiscals' Departments and that the scheme does not give effect to the Blackburn Report, although the fees payable by the public in Sheriff Courts have been increased by Act of Sederunt for that purpose; and whether it is his intention before the scheme is finally approved to give these Departments an opportunity of considering it and accepting or rejecting it?
My right hon. Friend has before him schemes for a reorganisation of the procurator fiscal and sheriff clerk services on the general lines proposed in the Blackburn Report, which are under consideration in conjunction with the Treasury. The officials concerned will be given an opportunity of submitting their views before any scheme is put into force. I must demur to the suggestion that Sheriff Court fees have been increased for the sole purpose of covering the cost of the Committee's recommendations. The relation between the fees and the reorganisation proposals will, however, be kept fully in view.