asked the Lord Advocate if he will pay an official visit to the law courts in Glasgow.
I have no immediate plans to visit the law courts in Glasgow.
Is it not about time that the right hon. and learned Gentleman did visit the Glasgow courts? Is he aware of the increasing concern in Glasgow about whether the courts are able to cope with a frightening increase in their work load, particularly in crimes of violence? Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman be willing to call a meeting of fiscals, police, solicitors and court staff to consider whether the courts are able to cope with their increasing work load, or whether additional provision needs to be made?
I am regularly in touch with procurators-fiscal in Glasgow. Their staffs are working under great pressure. There is difficulty in obtaining court time for a number of cases. Diets have been allocated for indictment cases up to 30th May 1977, and there are many cases awaiting allocation. This means that the delays cannot be reduced as much as would otherwise have been possible. Within the limits of public expenditure cuts, I am endeavouring to do the best that I can and I shall take note of the hon. Gentleman's suggestion, because a meeting of the sort that he suggests might prove useful.
If the right hon. and learned Gentleman does visit the courts in Glasgow, perhaps as a prosecutor for a change, is he aware that he will notice that a large number of crimes in cases of indictment arise from the fact that people carry offensive weapons? Since the Government appear to have nothing much else to do, could we have a Critimal Justice Act for Scotland to implement the recommendations of the Thompson Committee and the Scottish Council on Crime on this matter, which are rapidly gathering dust?
The recommendations of the Thompson Committee are under urgent consideration. This is only one of a number of suggestions which may have a material bearing on the reduction of the crime rate in Scotland. The carrying of offensive weapons is dealt with under a United Kingdom statute and deliberations beyond Scotland would be necessary before any change were made.