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Scottish Law Commission

Volume 22: debated on Wednesday 28 April 1982

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asked the Solicitor-General for Scotland what future inquiries are planned for the Scottish Law Commission.

In its sixteenth annual report, published on 9 December 1981, the Scottish Law Commission gives details of the work being carried out by it in pursuance of its published programmes of law reform and of consolidation and statute law reform and of its statutory duties under the Law Commissions Act 1965.

Will my hon. Friend give details of what happens to the Scottish Law Commission's reports? Is he satisfied that prompt and efficient action is taken on them, or do they lie on a shelf with law books and collect dust?

I am happy to use this opportunity to make it clear to the House that successive Governments have acted promptly on the Scottish Law Commission's reports. The best recent example is the report on occupancy rights in the matrimonial home and domestic violence, which was produced by the Scottish Law Commission on 17 July 1980. When my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Pentlands (Mr. Rifkind), now the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, was in the Scottish Office, he introduced a Bill on the basis of that report a little over seven months later.

When does the Solicitor-General expect progress to be made on the implementation of court awards for maintenance after divorce cases?

That matter is being considered. The right hon. Gentleman will be aware that there has been some development on this recently in the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Bill[Lords], which is currently before the House. That Bill contains a measure that will allow the enforcement of maintenance awards throughout the United Kingdom. It is a small measure, but I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will agree that it is a desirable improvement in the law.

Order. I propose to call the hon. Members for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) and for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Ancram).

Is the Scottish Law Commission presently at work on the area of law that was covered by the recent Supply of Goods and Services Bill, for which the hon. Gentleman was a Government spokesman, and about which there is a good deal of anxiety that Scottish law might be falling behind that of England?

The Scottish Law Commission is looking at that issue. The approach that it is taking is desirable, in that it is considering the matter not in isolation but in the broader area of implied terms in the supply and sale of goods. In addition, a joint report with the English Law Commission should bring about a far better and more comprehensive reform of Scottish law in this area.

Will my hon. Friend ask the Scottish Law Commission to look again at the common law of nuisance in relation to anti-social behaviour by neighbours in owner-occupied tenements? The common law is totally incapable of protecting such people at the moment.

I am not sure that looking at the law of nuisance is the best way of dealing with this matter. My hon. Friend might consider putting down an amendment to the Civic Government (Scotland) Bill[Lords] to deal with it.