§ 28. Mr. Dalyell
asked the Solicitor-General for Scotland what is the policy of the Lord Advocate towards the prosecution of United States service men for drugs offences committed in Scotland; and if he will make a statement.
§ The Solicitor-General for Scotland (Mr. Peter Fraser)
United States service men have been and will continue to be prosecuted for drugs offences in Scotland where the court has jurisdiction, and particularly where there has been supply to or trafficking with the local community. In lesser offences, including possession, the procurator fiscal may refer the case to the United States authorities for disposal. He must receive a report of the action taken.
§ Mr. Fraser
While the Visiting Forces Act 1952 gives the United States authorities an exclusive jurisdiction in certain circumstances, the hon. Gentleman should appreciate that their jurisdiction is not solely dependent on that Act. The principles of international law, spelt out before the second world war, are that, when the naval ships of a sovereign nation are in the territorial waters of another country, the sovereign state that is being visited does not have jurisdiction.
§ Mr. Maxton
What control does Customs and Excise have over United States ships coming into bases such as Holy Loch and elsewhere in Scotland in regard to searching for drugs? Is the inspection for drugs as slack as it is now in the rest of the Scottish ports?
§ Mr. Fraser
As I have indicated, naval ships of a sovereign nation such as the United States coming into Holy Loch enjoy a special status while they are there.
The hon. Gentleman should appreciate—I hope that he is not seeking to mislead anyone in the west of Scotland—that if anyone is trafficking in drugs or seeking to supply them to the local community, the procurator fiscal—once such a person comes ashore—has authority and the police have the right to carry out investigations. As I am sure the hon. Gentleman understands, there have in recent years been successful prosecutions against those who have sought to deal in drugs in Scotland.