Devolution

Oral Answers to Questions — Advocate-General – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 22nd October 2002.

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Photo of Ms Annabelle Ewing Ms Annabelle Ewing Scottish National Party, Perth 2:30 pm, 22nd October 2002

What devolution issues have been raised with her since 10 July.

Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Shadow Minister (Transport)

What devolution issues have been raised with her since 9 July under the Scotland Act 1998.

Photo of Dr Lynda Clark Dr Lynda Clark Advocate General for Scotland, Department for Constitutional Affairs, Advocate General for Scotland

Since 9 July 2002, 67 devolution issue cases have been intimated to me; all but three related to criminal matters, such as the right to a fair trial, the right to silence and undue delay in trial. Of the three civil matters intimated, two concerned professional disciplinary bodies and the right to a fair hearing before them. The third related to planning law.

Photo of Ms Annabelle Ewing Ms Annabelle Ewing Scottish National Party, Perth

As the Advocate-General has explained on a number of occasions in the House that a key reason for her limited number of interventions in devolution cases is the desire to save the taxpayer money, can she confirm the total cost of her interventions to date, and the percentage that it represents of the total cost of her office since its inception?

Photo of Dr Lynda Clark Dr Lynda Clark Advocate General for Scotland, Department for Constitutional Affairs, Advocate General for Scotland

I do not think that I said that cost was a key issue, although it is certainly important. When I handle cases personally—I do so whenever I can—a substantial saving is made, but I regret that the figures for which the hon. Lady asks are not available.

Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Shadow Minister (Transport)

May I say what a pleasure it is to see the hon. and learned Lady in her place? Has she yet had occasion to give advice on the following scenario? The making of an application to extend a Scottish airport would be a reserved matter, whereas planning remains a devolved matter. Which jurisdiction would have the final decision?

Photo of Dr Lynda Clark Dr Lynda Clark Advocate General for Scotland, Department for Constitutional Affairs, Advocate General for Scotland

I am always delighted to see the hon. Lady and I am glad to see that she, too, is still in her place. As I hope she knows, I always try to give her as much assistance as I can, but I regret that I must invoke the parliamentary convention that Law Officers have followed in the House for many years under different Administrations. I am afraid that it is not possible for me to give advice to the House about the various issues that I may or may not have considered.