Dr Lynda Clark: Again, I refer the hon. Lady to the answer that I gave some moments ago to the hon. Member for Vale of York (Miss McIntosh).
Dr Lynda Clark: I am afraid that legal questions do not have clear yes or no answers. The hon. Lady will be aware that there is a whole legislative structure under the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 which relates to taking children into care. So far as asylum is concerned, there is no question of any punishment. When the proposals are introduced and debated, the hon. Lady will see that they are designed to...
Dr Lynda Clark: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given today by my hon. Friend, the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland.
Dr Lynda Clark: I am informed that no representations by landowners have been received by the Office of the Advocate-General about the matter of partnership law in relation to Scottish land law.
Dr Lynda Clark: Since 9 September, 66 devolution issues have been intimated to me. The majority related to criminal law matters such as delay in bringing cases to trial, confiscation action under the proceeds of crime legislation, and the scope of the offences of breach of the peace and shameless indecency. In the civil arena, there were devolution minutes concerning prison conditions at Barlinnie and a...
Dr Lynda Clark: I am sure that we are all very interested in the tapes. Fortunately, it is not my job to advise the BBC or the inquiry, but I shall certainly bring the hon. Lady's representations to the attention of the appropriate quarters.
Dr Lynda Clark: It is a Scottish Executive inquiry and therefore not a matter for the UK Government. So far as the BBC's responsibilities are concerned, it has to be advised about contractual matters and any other matters that it thinks relevant. No doubt its legal advisers will take all such representations into account.
Dr Lynda Clark: No.
Dr Lynda Clark: I am sure that the Lord Advocate has sufficient lateral thinking ability to consider those matters himself.
Dr Lynda Clark: The operation of subsidised ferry services in Scotland is devolved. It is therefore for the Scottish Executive to consider what implications, if any, the Altmark case may have for ferry services in Scotland. In the event of a challenge in the Scottish courts, I would of course have to consider whether I wished to intervene if a devolution issue were raised.
Dr Lynda Clark: The matter is complex, as I am sure the hon. Gentleman understands. It is not as simple as he suggests for me to look at my law books and to come up with a solution, much as I should like to do so. As I have explained, a process is available that is similar in some ways to the process used in the Altmark case. A challenge was made in the German courts in that instance, and a reference was...
Dr Lynda Clark: Any such communications which take place between my Department and the Scottish Executive are confidential.
Dr Lynda Clark: It is not practice to list the individual engagements.
Dr Lynda Clark: Since 24 June, 93 devolution issues have been intimated to me. All but three related to criminal matters involving human rights claims, and the majority concerned delay in bringing criminal proceedings to trial. Other issues included challenges to the fixing of punishment part sentences for life prisoners under the Convention Rights (Compliance) (Scotland) Act 2001, confiscation of assets,...
Dr Lynda Clark: First, the Government introduced the European convention on human rights into our law. That provides a basis for domestic challenge. On things winging their way towards me, I shall wait with bated breath until they land on my desk. If and when that happens, I shall consider any devolution issue in detail, as I always do. The constitutional settlement is clear: asylum is a reserved matter and...
Dr Lynda Clark: Generally. If I receive a relevant devolution matter of the sort that the hon. Lady suggested, I will scrutinise it carefully and bear her comments in mind.
Dr Lynda Clark: I assess the legislative competence of each Bill introduced in the Scottish Parliament as part of the process of considering whether to exercise my power under section 33 of the Scotland Act 1998 to refer a Bill to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. That assessment includes a consideration of compliance with convention rights. When a Bill becomes law, my role on devolution issues...
Dr Lynda Clark: Let me quote section 1 of the Act to my hon. Friend. It states: "It shall be the right of every child of school age to be provided with school education by, or by virtue of arrangements made, or entered into, by an education authority." Anyone who believes that there is a difficulty in relation to a devolution issue is perfectly within their rights to raise that, as I have explained.
Dr Lynda Clark: Since the end of June 2003 there have been 88 devolution issues intimated to me. As to their subject matter, I refer the hon. Lady to the answer I gave a few moments ago to the hon. Member for Perth (Annabelle Ewing).
Dr Lynda Clark: I am casting my mind back drastically. I remember the hon. Lady's general question, but not the details. So far as I am aware, I have not received any representations since then, but I will certainly check with my office to see whether any have been made. If I think that I need to make changes to any of my views, I shall do so.