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Glasgow High Court

Volume 940: debated on Wednesday 30 November 1977

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32.

asked the Lord Advocate when he next intends to visit Glasgow High Court.

Is the Lord Advocate aware of the impact of current legal procedures on rape victims who are called to give evidence against the accused in the High Court, a situation which was epitomised by a recent case in my constituency? Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman indicate whether we can expect future legislation to remove many of these cases from the High Court and allow them to be heard in local sheriff courts?

I do not favour the hon. Lady's latter suggestion. If a matter is sufficiently serious to be tried in the High Court, that is where it should be tried. I am sure that she is not saying that rape is not a serious matter. On her first question, hon. Members on both sides have been good enough to draw to my attention the proposals of the Glasgow Rape Crisis Group, and I share their concern about this matter, as the hon. Lady will know from our discussions. There are certain practical steps which can be taken in this regard.

Will my right hon. and learned Friend confirm that the damage done to the Glasgow High Court in the recent fire was not as extensive as was first reported?

That is a matter not for me but for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland. However, I think that I agree with my hon. Friend.

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman remind the members of the SNP, who seem to be so ignorant about most of the characteristics of their country, that rape is one of the crimes that can be tried only in the High Court, along with murder and treason, in which the hon. Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Canavan) has expressed an interest?

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman also ensure that nothing that he or any of his right hon. Friends do will make such a cock-up of the law of rape as has been made in England?

I would not go so far as agreeing with the more extravagant language of the hon. and learned Gentleman. I certainly agree with the statement of the law in the opening part of his question.