Skip to main content

Departmental Responsibilities

Volume 884: debated on Wednesday 22 January 1975

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.


asked the Lord Advocate what is the division of responsibilities between himself and the Solicitor-General for Scotland.

There is no formal division of responsibilities between myself and the Solicitor-General for Scotland. The Solicitor-General assists me generally in the discharge of my functions. In particular, since my parliamentary and ministerial duties require me to spend a substantial proportion of my time in London, the Solicitor-General, in practice, plays a large and valuable part in carrying on the work of the Crown Office in Edinburgh.

Does the Lord Advocate appreciate that there is a strong feeling that the undoubted talents of successive Solicitors-General for Scotland, including the present incumbent, have not been fully used, simply because, in the normal course of events, they have not had a place in the House of Commons? Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman do his best to prevent this situation continuing by seeking to ensure that, when the new assembly is set up, although he himself may remain a Member of the House of Commons and be a responsible Minister of the British Government, the Solicitor-General will be, at least ex officio, if in no other way, a member of the Scottish assembly?

I have no doubt that what the hon. Gentleman says will have been noted. I agree that it is desirable, where possible, that both the Law Officers should be Members of the elected House of Parliament. I note what the hon. Gentleman says with regard to the future Scottish assembly. Plainly, that assembly will require legal advice, and the way in which this can best be done is under active consideration.

I hope that the Lord Advocate will not give any support to the highly undemocratic suggestion just made by the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Pentlands (Mr. Rifkind), that a member of the proposed democratic assembly for Scotland should be non-elected. Will he reject that out of hand?

If my hon. Friend had attended closely to the wording of my reply he would have noted that I referred to elected assemblies. I certainly intended the implication to be that it is highly desirable that the Law Officers of the Crown should be elected members, not ex officio.