On 26 May 2006 the Law Society of Scotland broke off negotiations with the Scottish Executive about legal aid rates, a special general meeting of the Society the previous week having rejected the Executive’s proposal of an 8% increase for court advocacy fees and 5% for other work. There is talk that legal aid work will be stopped altogether unless an increase of at least 50% is agreed.
Thanks to our diligent bankruptcy correspondent Scott Wortley who has drawn our attention to this part of the Stage 1 debate on the Bankruptcy and Diligence etc (Scotland) Bill in the Scottish Parliament on 24 May 2006 (see Official Report, http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/business/officialReports/meetingsParliament/or-06/sor0524-02.htm#Col25904)Donald Gorrie (Central Scotland) (LD): Above all, we should attack the flogging of multiple debt and the practiceof inducing people who are already hopelessly in debt to take on more debts.The loan sharks and back-street people who do that should, of course, befirmly dealt with, but there are also a lot of worthy bankers – members of thebest golf clubs – whose minions repeatedly induce people who are hopelessly indebt to take on still more debt. In my view, anyone who indulges in thatactivity – from the director of the bank to the assistant branchmanager – should be served with an antisocial behaviour order and made to docommunity service, possibly by digging the gardens of the people whose livesthey have ruined. We must take the matter seriously; I know that manyaspects of it are reserved to Westminster, but surely we can do something tosort it out.Christine May (Central Fife) (Lab): Will Mr Gorrie confirm that thepunishment of digging gardens is not general Liberal Democrat policy?Donald Gorrie: I will have to think about that. I am not always an expert ongeneral Liberal Democrat policy.
Comments of Liberal Democrat officials on the last sentence welcomed. We know however that it is increasingly party policy to be tough on crime.
MSPs returned to the main debating chamber of the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood on 10 May 2006. The beam which swung loose from the chamber roof on 2 March (see No 543) and its fellows have been secured temporarily by 150 blue and yellow nylon straps; permanent repair works will be completed in the summer recess. No word yet on legal action, although expenses to date have been significant.