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The Earl of Mar and Kellie: My Lords, with regard to the two legal aid orders, the uprating of the income levels is to be welcomed. There has to remain a major concern about the range of the legal aid system. Although the definition of "disposable income" is more generous than "gross income", it remains that these uprating enfranchise only one-third of the Scottish population, if that, and leave two-thirds excluded. We are therefore left where we started, with justice difficult to access by medium earners and only available to the well-off and lowest income groups.
I move on. With regard to the extension to summary proceedings of the work of the Scottish criminal cases review commission, this extension of activities can certainly be welcomed. The commencement of this commission on 1st April definitely has to be welcomed. There has been an increase in the number of cases in the Scottish jurisdiction where there is some nagging doubt about the safety of convictions. It is worth mentioning, as examples, the cases of Thomas Campbell and Joseph Steele--the so-called Glasgow two--and, indeed, the case of Andrew Smith, which was highlighted in today's Scotsman newspaper. Will the Secretary of State refer these cases and others to the commission, or are the individuals themselves required to refer themselves to the commission?
I appreciate that there has always been a presumption of confidence in the Scottish criminal justice system, but now there are questions and these must be answered. I hope that the Scottish criminal justice system will be restored to full confidence, but only if it really deserves to be so. The order wisely extends the commission's work to cases arising in the sheriff courts. This is a sensible extension. I predict that this kind of work will be sparse, but that would be no reason not to make the extension. One miscarriage is, of course, one too many at any level.
The Earl of Courtown: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his explanation of this order which helped me to understand it. I also thank the noble Earl, Lord Mar and Kellie, for mentioning the points which have been made by the Law Society of Scotland, with which I entirely agree. While we have no objection to the Scottish criminal cases review commission order, can the Minister tell me what additional resources will be required by the commission to handle summary cases without delaying the handling of solemn cases?
Lord Sewel: My Lords, I thank the noble Earls who have participated in this brief but, I believe, significant debate. I shall deal with the specific points made by the noble Earl, Lord Mar and Kellie. I believe he has concerns with regard to the extension of legal aid. The orders before us today do not deal with the extension of legal aid; they deal with the matter of uprating. I recognise that there is a perfectly legitimate argument to be made as regards the extension of legal aid, but that really is a matter for another time and perhaps another place.
As regards the specific cases the noble Earl mentioned, some specific cases are before the Secretary of State at this time. If they cannot be resolved before 1st April--I believe that as regards the specific cases the noble Earl mentioned, it is unlikely that they will be
As regards the matter raised by the noble Earl, Lord Courtown, of resources and solemn and summary cases, our advice is that the number of summary cases at present falling before the Secretary of State are few indeed. It is a matter of two or three a year. Therefore we do not expect that this will represent a significant drain or charge upon existing resources. We hope that they would easily be able to be dealt with within the existing provision. On that basis, I hope that noble Lords will feel able to support the orders.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, I am even more conscious of the lateness of the hour. If it is convenient I shall take the two orders standing in my name together and briefly refer to them. I shall first talk to the adjacent waters boundary order before turning to the consequential modifications order. Both orders have been debated in another place. In view of our previous debates I am slightly hesitant to use the word "technical", but the orders are essentially technical in nature.
The Scottish Adjacent Waters Boundaries Order is needed to implement the devolution settlement for Scotland in relation to certain maritime matters, most notably in relation to sea fisheries. It does so by establishing a boundary between the waters within the British fishery limits that are adjacent to Scotland and those that are adjacent to other parts of the United Kingdom. In this way it creates a Scottish zone within British fishery limits. In general terms, Scots law for sea fisheries will apply within that zone. I hope that it will be helpful if I set out the relevant provisions of the Scotland Act a little more fully to explain the significance of this Scottish zone and of the maritime boundary.
Under Schedule 5, the regulation of sea fishing outside the Scottish zone, except in relation to Scottish fishing boats, is reserved. Section 126 provides a definition of such a Scottish zone to mean the sea within British fishery limits which is adjacent to Scotland. At
The boundary follows the normal convention for determining similar international boundaries, that is, a median line between the nearest points of land on either side using the "baselines" which have been established around the coast of the United Kingdom in accordance with international law.
Within the Scottish zone the Scottish Parliament will have competence to make law for sea fisheries and Scottish Ministers will exercise functions in relation to the regulation of sea fisheries. In both cases, of course, the Parliament and Scottish Ministers will have to act in accordance with our international obligations, notably with EU law for fisheries and the common fisheries policy. In practice, therefore, the Scottish zone marks the sea area where the EU law on fisheries, as well as Scots law, will be enforced by Scottish Ministers and their officials and by Scottish courts.
The boundary provided by the draft order has particular significance for sea fisheries. I wish to make it clear--though it should be self-evident--that the boundary has no significance for other matters at sea which are reserved. In particular, it has no relevance to the regulation of oil and gas exploration and production at sea since these are reserved matters.
In addition, noble Lords will see from Section 126 of the Scotland Act that "Scotland" does extend to include the territorial sea around Scotland, and that is relevant to certain provisions of the Scotland Act. One example is Section 75 of the Act, which defines a Scottish taxpayer with regard to the number of days spent by a person in Scotland. In that respect, the boundary provided within the territorial sea will also be relevant for those purposes of the Act. Put briefly, if you have a boat and moor it outside Aberdeen harbour, you do not escape being a Scottish taxpayer.
I now turn to the Scotland Act 1998 (Consequential Modifications) (No. 1) Order 1999. The order is made under Section 105 of the Scotland Act 1998. It makes a variety of amendments to legislation to take account of the Act.
This order contains the amendments which are required to come into force on 6th May and 20th May in connection with the creation of the parliament and the transfer of the Lord Advocate from the United Kingdom Government to the Scottish Executive. It also contains a small number of amendments that come into force on 1st July. A second consequential modifications order will be laid in May to cover the main bulk of the amendments which will come into force on 1st July. So, my Lords, we shall meet again.
Moved, That the draft orders laid before the House on 25th February and 8th March be approved [11th and 12th Reports from the Joint Committee].--(Lord Sewel.)
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