Margaret Mitchell MSP

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Justice Committee 25 November 2014 : Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Margaret Mitchell

I will be absolutely clear. There is an appeal pending. If the regulations are approved but the appeal is lost and Glasgow sheriff court’s taxation decision is upheld, will the Law Society’s point still stand?



Justice Committee 25 November 2014 : Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Margaret Mitchell

So you have no concerns that, if the regulations come into force, guilty pleas could be delayed and not tendered until a later date.



Justice Committee 25 November 2014 : Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Margaret Mitchell

You might be aware of a late submission from the Law Society of Scotland that expresses concern over the provision for duty solicitors to be paid a half fee when there is a guilty plea. The nub of the issue is that, as well as looking at the full fee, we would not want to revert to not guilty pleas being tendered just to ensure that a fee is provided, while the plea is changed at a later date.

The Law Society has suggested that we delay implementation of the regulations to allow soundings to be taken and perhaps to allow the Government to speak with the society. We do not have to deal with the motion on the regulations until 12 December, and I think that you are coming back to the committee next week. That might give you time to consider the submission more fully, if you are not aware of it.



Justice Committee 25 November 2014 : Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Margaret Mitchell

It was a comment. I am finished.



Justice Committee 25 November 2014 : Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Margaret Mitchell

Further analysis of why fewer cases are meeting the 26-week target would be welcome. I think that it is a result of staffing levels in the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and court closures. I would like to say that it was proved correct that court closures are not having an impact, but I rather fear that they are.



Justice Committee 25 November 2014 : Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Margaret Mitchell

Good things are going on. For example, we heard about the domestic abuse task force, which deals with more complex cases and ensures that every witness is seen, and which involves procurators fiscal travelling throughout the country. That is all welcome, but there is a gap in the bulwark service, which has been highlighted. I ask that the cabinet secretary designate keeps an open mind on these things, given the importance of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.

The figures from June show that only 63 per cent of sheriff and justice of the peace cases were resolved from caution to verdict within the 26-week target, compared with 74 per cent in September 2013. I acknowledge that the aim of the Courts Reform (Scotland) Bill is to increase access to justice and deal with delays, but court closures are having a negative impact. The court closure programme is coming to an end. Will you comment on court capacity? Will you have a look at the four courts that I think are due to close by January 2015? Is that a realistic prospect?

12:30  

Justice Committee 25 November 2014 : Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Margaret Mitchell

Last week, we took evidence from the Procurators Fiscal Society and from the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service. I think that it is fair to say that there was a bit of a disconnect between the two sources of evidence. I therefore very much welcome your initial approach of looking at the whole journey and at where there may be some weaknesses.

However, I will flag up an important point, although I think that it was acknowledged. It is sometimes difficult for people who are in a public service to be as forthright as they could be. There may not be such a restraint on the society. One of the areas in which there was a disconnect was lack of preparation time. It was suggested that there is always a lack of preparation time, but people just get on with it. However, what was worrying was that the society said that although that is true, lack of time is becoming the norm and leads to problems with evidence, procedure and witness availability, which in turn causes delay in the courts. Are you prepared to consider the issue, given that there seems to be a £1.1 million reduction in the staffing budget for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service?



Justice Committee 25 November 2014 : Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Margaret Mitchell

Congratulations on your new post, cabinet secretary designate.



Justice Committee 25 November 2014 : Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Margaret Mitchell

Which general heading does that spending come under in the budget?



Justice Committee 25 November 2014 : Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Margaret Mitchell

At previous meetings I have asked about budgets for campaigns—on the 101 number, doorstep sellers and keeping safe online—and about general public relations budgets, but it was not made clear how much is spent on those things or where we would find a breakdown of the information. It is important to see how effective that preventative spend is.

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

Selection of the Parliament's Nominee for First Minister
YesCarried

Selection of the Parliament's Nominee for First Minister
Not VotedCarried

Selection of the Parliament's Nominee for First Minister
Not VotedCarried

S4M-11567.2 Margaret Mitchell: Lowering the Drink Drive Limit—As an amendment to motion S4M-11567 in
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YesCarried

S4M-11507.1 Cameron Buchanan: Progressive Workplace Policies to Boost Productivity, Growth and Jobs—
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Not VotedDefeated

S4M-11507 Angela Constance: Progressive Workplace Policies to Boost Productivity, Growth and Jobs—Th
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Not VotedCarried

S4M-11494.3 Jackie Baillie: Welfare Benefits for People Living with Disabilities—As an amendment to
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Not VotedDefeated

S4M-11494.2 Alex Johnstone: Welfare Benefits for People Living with Disabilities—As an amendment to
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Not VotedDefeated

S4M-11494 Margaret Burgess: Welfare Benefits for People Living with Disabilities—That the Parliament
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Not VotedCarried

S4M-11484.1 Jackson Carlaw: Human Rights—As an amendment to motion S4M-11484 in the name of Roseanna
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Not VotedDefeated

Search for other Motions lodged by Margaret Mitchell
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11656: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 21/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11567.2: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 17/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11551: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 13/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11480: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 07/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11468: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 06/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11467: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 06/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11397: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 03/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11376: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 31/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11313: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 27/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11178: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 10/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Margaret Mitchell
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4W-22936: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 24/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03595: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 29/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22466: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 22/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22226: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 01/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22227: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 01/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22228: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 01/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21815: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 17/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21812: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 17/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03329: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 04/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21608: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 04/06/2014 Show Full Question >>

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