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Appointment And Removal Ofjustices

Volume 889: debated on Monday 24 March 1975

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I beg to move Amendment No. 12, in page 6, line 10, at end insert "sheriffs".

With this we may take the following amendment:

No. 13, in Clause 11, page 8. line 26, after "him", insert
"other than the office of sheriff".

It is important to preserve the status quo here. The sheriff is entitled to sit in the existing burgh courts if no magistrate is available. This is a valuable fall-back position.

A short time ago we heard the Minister arguing about what would happen if no stipendiary magistrates were available or were sick on a certain day. The reverse is also true. In landward areas where we are not likely to have stipendiary magistrates this will be an additional help in the staffing of the court. I hope, therefore, that the Government will accept the amendment.

Again I hope to convince the House that the amendment should be rejected. There has been no demand from the sheriff in Scotland to sit in these district courts. We are anxious to retain a good relationship between sheriffs and lay magistrates, and the sheriffs have given a clear indication to the Government that they would be interested in and willing and able to assist us with the training of lay magistrates, and lay magistrates courts and the rotas that have to be drawn up will be the subject of jurisdiction by the local justice's committee. If we were to accept the amendment, sheriffs would not only on many occasions have to sit in the courts but would also have to take part in the other committee work, which they have said they are not desirous of doin

Having said that, I again indicate to the House that the sheriffs are most anxious to retain a first-class relationship between district courts and themselves. We do not see this amendment as lending anything to that relationship. We do not see it is as necessary within the context of the Bill, and again I ask the hon. Gentleman either to withdraw the amendment or not to put it to the vote. But if the matter is pressed, I ask the House to reject the amendment.

Amendment negatived.