HC Deb 03 March 1976 vol 906 cc1308-9
36. Mr. Monro

asked the Lord Advocate if he is satisfied that sufficient procurators fiscal are in post for the conduct of prosecutions in the district courts.

The Lord Advocate

Sufficient procurators fiscal are in post for the conduct of prosecutions in those district courts where this responsibility has already been assumed by the Procurator Fiscal Service.

On 16th May 1976 the service will assume responsibility for prosecutions in the remaining district courts—15 in number. The additional staff required for this purpose are not yet in post, but it is hoped that they will be before 16th May. In the case of the legally qualified personnel it may be a little later before they are all recruited.

Mr. Monro

I am grateful to the right hon. and learned Gentleman for that detailed reply. Will he give an indication that in general there will now be a reduction in the time taken in bringing cases to court?

The Lord Advocate

I am afraid that I cannot give any such undertaking. As the hon. Gentleman will appreciate, the Procurator Fiscal Service has taken on a considerable additional burden in prosecuting in district courts. That is a problem that will have to be coped with before I can give any hope that there will be a positive reduction in the delay in bringing cases to court.

Mr. Rifkind

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman satisfied with the amount of training that is being given to the new justices who are attending and taking part in the administration of these courts?

The Lord Advocate

As the training is in an early stage of development, it would be quite wrong to give the impression of complacency or satisfaction. Training is at an early stage and it is being constantly considered and reconsidered. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will play his part in ensuring that the judges who volunteer for this work will take a full part in the training.

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