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Volume 24: debated on Wednesday 26 May 1982

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asked the Solicitor-General for Scotland if he will meet the procurator fiscal of Falkirk to discuss the administration of justice in Falkirk.

I have no plans at present to meet the procurator fiscal at Falkirk, but I shall of course do so should the need arise.

Will the hon. and learned Gentleman meet the procurator fiscal of Falkirk so that he can discuss the experimental use of tape recordings in that area for the questioning of suspects taken in by the police? Does the hon. and learned Gentleman consider the experiment a success and does he intend to extend it to other areas? In how many cases have tape recordings been used in court in the prosecution of suspects?

Although I have not spoken to the procurator fiscal at Falkirk, I have talked to the procurator fiscal in Dundee, where the experiment is also taking place. The extension of the experiment Ls a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland, but I think that the hon. Gentleman knows that the experiment is being extended to Glasgow and Aberdeen. There are certain evidential problems about the validity of tape recordings in court, following a decision in the High Court at Perth. That is presenting some problems, but it is intended to use tape recordings as evidence wherever possible.

Will the hon. and learned Gentleman confirm the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Maxton) that no tape recorded evidence has been admissible in court? Will the hon. and learned Gentleman obtain a copy of the annual report of Chief Constable Ian Oliver of the central Scotland police force, which makes it clear that if the experiments are to continue a substantial number of additional staff will have to be made available? Will those additional staff be made available?

I am aware of the comments of the chief constable of the central region and I take the point made by the hon. Gentleman. Following the first attempt to lead tape recorded evidence in a Scottish court, there was a problem about admissibility. However, it is still the Crown's intention to use such evidence in criminal prosecutions whenever it can be so used.