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Bail Etc (Scotland) Act

Volume 980: debated on Wednesday 5 March 1980

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asked the Solicitor-General for Scotland whether he will hold discussions with sheriffs in Scotland on the implementation of the Bail Etc. (Scotland) Act.

Although my noble and learned Friend the Lord Advocate and I have periodic discussions with sheriffs principal and sheriffs in Scotland on subjects of common interest, we have no plans at present to hold discussions with them on the im- Plementation of the Bail Etc.(Scotland) Act 1980.

Is the hon. and learned Gentleman aware that there have been certain pronouncements by the shrieval bench in Glasgow that, whatever may be Parliament's intention, money bail has in effect been retained by the Act and will continue to be enforced? In view of that, will the Solicitor-General for Scotland reconsider his plans and talk to the sheriffs to make sure that that is not continued as an everyday occurrence in Scottish courts?

As the hon. Gentleman will know, it would be constitutionally improper for me to influence the courts in their application of a statute passed by this House. The remedy is simple if any judge at any level misinterprets any Act—appeal to the High Court.

Nevertheless, will my hon. and learned Friend take the opportunity to make it clear that under the Act money bail is to be imposed only in exceptional circumstances?

Can the Solicitor-General for Scotland define the exceptional circumstances?