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North Sea Oil Installations (Offences)

Volume 889: debated on Wednesday 26 March 1975

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asked the Lord Advocate whether he will list his statutory powers in relation to prosecutions involving offences committed on North Sea oil installations.

The statutory powers of the Lord Advocate in relation to prosecutions involving offences committed on North Sea oil installations depend on where the installation is situated. If an offence takes place on an oil installation situated out with territorial waters in a designated area, the Lord Advocate has the same powers which he has in relation to offences committed in Scotland. If the oil installation is situated within territorial waters, the relevant powers are given to the Lord Advocate by the 1964 Act, as extended by Section 8 of the Mineral Workings (Off-shore Installations) Act 1971. If the oil installation is in transit, both the 1964 and the 1971 Acts apply.

I am grateful for that reply. Is the Lord Advocate satisfied that this rather complex system is the best way to deal with prosecutions that may arise from the ever-increasing activities in the North Sea? If not, has he considered suggesting how the supervision of law and order in the North Sea might be more simply controlled?

I am satisfied that this is an effective method of policing installations at present. I take the view that improvements are possible, and these matters are under active consideration by the Government.

The Lord Advocate says that he is satisfied with the situation. Is he satisfied that the responsibility for law and order on all oil installations will still be carried out by the Chief Constable of Aberdeen? What advice will he give to his hon. Friend, who is reviewing the situation presumably because he believes it to be unsatisfactory?

If the hon. Gentleman had paid closer attention to my answer, he would have heard me express qualified satisfaction. Some of those qualifications cover his point.