Commercial Property Law

Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons at 2:17 pm on 25th January 1995.

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Photo of Mr Peter Thurnham Mr Peter Thurnham , Bolton North East 2:17 pm, 25th January 1995

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has received about the commercial property law in Scotland.

Photo of Mr Allan Stewart Mr Allan Stewart , East Renfrewshire

During 1994, representations about commercial property law were received from the British Retail Confederation.

Photo of Mr Peter Thurnham Mr Peter Thurnham , Bolton North East

For the benefit of Mr. Max Davidson and others, can my hon. Friend confirm that the law in Scotland is different from the law in England, in that Scotland does not have the iniquitous privity of contract that we suffer here? Will he remind his colleagues in the Lord Chancellor's Department and the Department of the Environment how much better Scottish law is?

Photo of Mr Allan Stewart Mr Allan Stewart , East Renfrewshire

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for those compliments. Of course, he is essentially correct.

Photo of Mr Allan Stewart Mr Allan Stewart , East Renfrewshire

I shall not be diverted by the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. McAllion).

My hon. Friend rightly pointed out to the House that privity of contract does not apply in Scotland. In Scots law, when a lease is assigned to a new tenant, the previous tenant is released from liability unless the parties specifically contract otherwise, in contrast to the position in England. I know that my right hon. and noble Friend the Lord Chancellor intends to introduce legislation at the earliest opportunity, and I hope that my hon. Friend's long campaign on that issue, which I think commands support on both sides of the House, will therefore shortly reach a successful conclusion.

Photo of John Home Robertson John Home Robertson , East Lothian

Will the Minister institute a review of the effects of recent legislation on commercial railway property in Scotland? What is the sense of legislation that will lead to the closure of lines, a loss of key services such as sleepers and the criminal neglect of public assets such as the Forth railway bridge?

Photo of Mr Allan Stewart Mr Allan Stewart , East Renfrewshire

I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his ingenuity. I can reassure him that the structure of the railways in Scotland will remain intact.

Photo of Menzies Campbell Menzies Campbell Shadow Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs), Shadow Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

While the Minister rightly extols the virtues of Scottish law, will he reflect on the fact that the Scottish legal system is the only domestic system of law in western Europe without its own Parliament? Do not the merits of the Scottish legal system now justify a Parliament in Edinburgh?

Photo of Mr Allan Stewart Mr Allan Stewart , East Renfrewshire

There is, of course, an arguable case for independence, although I do not agree with it. There is not an arguable case for the proposition being put forward by the Labour party, which does not seek to answer any of the serious questions. When challenged on serious issues such as the West Lothian question and others, the only answer given by the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. Robertson) is to say that they are all red herrings—what a way to conduct a serious policy.