Law Society of Scotland

Oral Answers to Questions — European Community – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 21st January 1976.

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Photo of Dennis Canavan Dennis Canavan , Stirlingshire West 12:00 am, 21st January 1976

asked the Lord Advocate when he next proposes to meet the Law Society of Scotland.

Photo of Mr Ronald Murray Mr Ronald Murray , Edinburgh Leith

I have at present no plans to meet the Law Society of Scotland. I am, of course, frequently in contact with the President of the Society on matters of mutual concern.

Photo of Dennis Canavan Dennis Canavan , Stirlingshire West

Will my right hon. and learned Friend discuss with the Law Society the suggestion, put forward by hon. Members from both sides of the House during the devolution debate, that some form of judicial tribunal should decide whether a Scottish Assembly Bill is intra vires or ultra vires? Does he not think that this would help in some way to release the Assembly from the Westminster veto and that it would be more democratic and more legally acceptable than the White Paper's proposal that the United Kingdom Government should decide the vires of any Assembly Bills?

Photo of Mr Ronald Murray Mr Ronald Murray , Edinburgh Leith

The Law Society of Scotland has submitted a memorandum covering the whole of the White Paper, including these matters, and it will be given careful consideration by the Government, along with all other representations.

Whether to have a judicial review before or after the enactment of a Bill was discussed in the White Paper. Paragraph 57 refers to a review during the passage of the Bill and other matters are dealt with in paragraphs 61 to 65. The Government have an open mind about having a review after a Bill has been enacted and they are prepared to listen to the arguments, including the interesting arguments put during the devolution debate.

As for other matters, including a reference to a court during the passage of a Bill through the Assembly, the Lord President and the Minister of State made clear during the devolution debate that the Government's mind was not closed on that matter, and they are certainly prepared to consider all the arguments presented to them. I am conscious of the advantages of a judicial review, but it must be recognised that there are also disadvantages.