Dr Lynda Clark: Since 30 November, 67 devolution issues have been intimated to me: 36 devolution issues related to criminal matters, including pre-trial delay, self incrimination under section 172 of the Road Traffic Acts and satellite monitoring of fishing vessels; the remaining 31 devolution issues related to civil matters, almost all of which concerned prison conditions.
Dr Lynda Clark: No.
Dr Lynda Clark: Many of those cases—for example, the pre-trial delay cases—were copycat cases in which I had examined the legal issues in detail in relation to other cases. In one or two of those cases, I intervened and appeared in Privy Council to deal with the legal issues. Such matters depend on the type of issue and whether the issue has been raised before. I did not intervene on any of the...
Dr Lynda Clark: The important matters that my hon. Friend raises relate to policy, not legal issues. Policy discussions would not normally be carried out by me but by the relevant policy Ministers, including my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland. It may be of some assistance if I give an overview of legal regulatory matters as I see them at the moment. My hon. Friend will be aware that...
Dr Lynda Clark: I am always happy to give any advice that is asked for by colleagues.
Dr Lynda Clark: I received intimation of six cases involving the seizure of assets of convicted drugs dealers in 2004. Three were civil actions for the recovery of proceeds of crime under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, and three were applications for confiscation orders in criminal proceedings, following conviction, under the Proceeds of Crime (Scotland) Act 1995.
Dr Lynda Clark: I would refer the hon. Lady to the answer I gave to questions numbers 16 to 19.
Dr Lynda Clark: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given today by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland. The information for the Office of the Advocate-General is not held separately from that of the Scotland Office.
Dr Lynda Clark: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply given by my hon. Friend, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Constitutional Affairs, on 24 January 2005, Official Report, column 140W.
Dr Lynda Clark: indicated dissent.
Dr Lynda Clark: Since 11 January 2005, 55 devolution cases have been intimated to me, all of which have raised human rights issues. All of the 45 civil cases intimated to me concern prison conditions. Of the 10 cases relating to criminal law, eight related to pre-trial delay, one to delay in hearing an appeal and one to the detention and questioning of a 14-year-old boy.
Dr Lynda Clark: I have every respect for Lord Fraser; he is of course entitled to his interpretation. His inquiry predates the Bill to which the hon. Lady refers. Therefore, I do not think that I can further assist her.
Dr Lynda Clark: As the hon. Lady knows, the 110-day rule has been altered by statute to some extent, to change the way in which the dates run. Generally, the person concerned is not in custody in pre-trial delay cases. The 110-day rule relates to people who are in custody. People who are charged with summary offences or who have been released on bail are not covered by the rule. In some cases intimated to me...
Dr Lynda Clark: There is some slight confusion; I was talking about one or two of the types of case raised. I have intervened and appeared in a number of cases. I do not have the figures to hand, but I have appeared personally in the highest courts in at least 10 different cases. I have also intervened through counsel in a number of other cases; I can give the hon. Gentleman the specific numbers. Devolution...
Dr Lynda Clark: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for singing my praise. I am sure that his will be sung in many quarters for having made such an enormous contribution to the work of Parliament. I know that my hon. Friend has been concerned about the division of responsibilities. Perhaps I can assist him by drawing his attention to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, an independent body charged with...
Dr Lynda Clark: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given today by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland.
Dr Lynda Clark: This action was formally directed against me in accordance with section 1 of the Crown Suits (Scotland) Act 1857. As section 2 of that Act makes clear, responsibility for defending the action lies with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence. I am advised that the action is being defended on behalf of the Secretary of State for Defence.
Dr Lynda Clark: Since 8 February, 95 devolution issues have been intimated to me. Of the 66 civil cases, one related to failure to transfer a patient from a state hospital and the remainder concerned prison conditions. Of the 29 criminal cases, 19 concerned pre-trial delay.
Dr Lynda Clark: As with all individual cases, each case will be assessed on its merits either by the court—if it goes to the court and is determined by the court—or in discussions between the parties. I am not party to those cases; it is not part of my task to assess the compensation. The claims range from very small amounts to fairly substantial amounts, and the outcome is difficult to predict. I can...
Dr Lynda Clark: Scottish Ministers are obliged to act in accordance with European law. If a challenge were made on the ground that they had not fulfilled that legal obligation, I would assess that as well as my powers under the Scotland Act. These issues can be complex, and there is room for more than one view. If necessary, the court would ultimately determine the matter.