Abdelbaset al-Megrahi

Oral Answers to Questions — Advocate-General for Scotland – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 15th March 2005.

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Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell Labour, Linlithgow 11:30 am, 15th March 2005

What discussions she has had with the Scottish Executive on the transfer of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi from Barlinnie to Greenock prison.

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

I have had no discussions with the Scottish Executive on the transfer of Mr. al-Megrahi. I refer my hon. Friend to the reply that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Mr. Mullin, gave on this matter on 9 March.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell Labour, Linlithgow

Is it recognised that thanks to the excellent and highly professional attitude of the governor of Greenock prison and his colleagues, this transfer has gone far better than any of us dared hope that it might? But could the Advocate-General help by getting an answer to the very specific questions that I asked about the payment given to, and the hospitality shown to, Mr. Gauci? During a foreign affairs debate, the Foreign Office said that it would provide such answers, but that it has to go to the Crown Office. Will my hon. and learned Friend try her luck with the Crown Office?

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

If the Foreign Office is going to the Crown Office, as my hon. Friend suggests, I am sure that it is capable of dealing with it directly. I understand his frustration with this process, but the division concerning these matters arises as a result of devolution. So I repeat what I have told him before: this issue forms no part of my role as Advocate-General.

Photo of David Cairns David Cairns PPS (Malcolm Wicks, Minister of State), Department for Work and Pensions

At the invitation of governor Derek McGill, I visited Greenock prison a few weeks ago to see for myself the cells that Mr. al-Megrahi was to be kept in. Far from being the lap of luxury that some quarters of the press were presenting them as, they were in fact very basic. Does my hon. and learned Friend share my confidence that the excellent governor and staff of Greenock prison will keep Mr. al-Megrahi at Her Majesty's pleasure and ensure that he is properly integrated into prison life; and does she agree that the scare stories that he will be detained in luxury and at huge expense do no credit to anyone?

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

Accurate information is of course extremely important, and it is always very useful for Members of Parliament, particularly those with prisons in their constituencies, to exercise their visiting rights, which I understand that they have as MPs.