asked the Solicitor-General for Scotland how many prosecutions there were for crimes and offences in Strathclyde region in 1984; and how this compares with 1983.
Provisional figures for 1984 indicate that 103,150 persons were proceeded against in Strathclyde region for crimes and offences. This compares with a figure of 114,336 for 1983.
Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that, if Strathclyde regional council brought the Strathclyde police force up to established strength, more police on the beat would do a great deal to detect crime and so increase the number of prosecutions? Does he further agree that Strathclyde regional council's refusal to increase the number of police is profoundly damaging and wholly unjustified?
Yes. Although I have said that there is a decline in the number of people proceeded against, I should have thought that there was nothing in that figure to justify the action being taken to withhold from the chief constable the funding that he needs to bring his force up to full strength. I understand that there is a shortfall of about 200 police officers and 704 civilian support staff in Strathclyde region.
Would not the statistics concerning those proceeded against in Strathclyde courts for drunkenness and related offences be improved considerably by the establishment of designated places?
The action that has been taken in Aberdeen has shown that the problem can be dealt with much more satisfactorily in that way. If the hon. Gentleman examines the figures that I have given, I believe he will appreciate that what my hon. Friend the Member for Strathkelvin and Bearsden (Mr. Hirst) said was valid.
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. My point of order concerns Question 15, which I had hoped to have the opportunity to ask, and a significant mistype. The mistyped word is "liability". I had no intention of asking about the liability of the Scottish salmon fishing industry, but wanted to raise the issue of its viability. You will be aware, Mr. Speaker, that good beats of Scottish salmon rivers have never seen fewer salmon—
Order. I am not aware of that and I am sorry that we did not reach the hon. Gentleman's question. We did not make very good progress today. However, I have done my best to call those hon. Members who tabled questions lower on the Order Paper. I shall ensure that the correction is made.
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. It has not escaped your notice that, in spite of your excellent efforts, we managed to get only as far as Question 9 today. So that we might proceed more quickly and ask more questions of Scottish Ministers, who represent the equivalent of seven United Kingdom Departments and a wide range of issues—we did not reach some important questions today, such as that on the salmon industry and one on Pratt and Whitney, in which I was especially interested—would you consider refraining from calling some Conservative Members again and again when there are only a handful of them and when some of them have not tabled questions at all? Would you also consider making representations through the usual channels to the effect that Scottish Question Time should take place more frequently than every four weeks? The Welsh are able to question their Secretary of State every three weeks and I think that we should be doing it at least every fortnight.
If the hon. Gentleman looks at the Order Paper, he will see that I gave preference, as is my practice, to those hon. Members with questions on the Order Paper. [Interruption.] Order. If the hon. Gentleman is referring to hon. Members from English constituencies, may I say that they have as much right to take part in Scottish Question Time as Scottish Members have to take part in English Question Time. I called some of them today, though I think not as frequently as I called Scottish Opposition Members. If the hon. Gentleman consults the Order Paper, he will see that I made a judgment on important issues in Scotland and that hon. Members with questions further down the Order Paper were called.
Further to the point of order, Mr. Speaker. I understand that the hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes) has just drawn attention to the fact that, unusually, I do not have a question on the Order Paper today. The reason is quite simple—
Order. I cannot think that that is a matter for me. I hope that the hon. Gentleman is not dissatisfied with being called three—or was it four, times?