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Clause 1. — (Power to Award Costs Out of Legal Aid Fund.)

Part of Orders of the Day — Legal Aid Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 23rd January 1964.

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Photo of Sir John Hobson Sir John Hobson , Warwick and Leamington 12:00 am, 23rd January 1964

Despite the persuasive arguments advanced by my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop), I must advise the Committee not to accept the Amendment. During the debate, we have ranged fairly widely and we have had a very useful discussion of many points and some most interesting observations on the Amendment itself.

The Amendment goes very much to the root and purpose of the Bill. If passed, it would remove the test of severe financial hardship as a necessary condition of help being given to the successful unassisted litigant at first instance, [f this gateway were removed, the result would almost certainly be that the vast majority of successful unassisted litigants, whatever their financial position, would look to the State and be entitled to have their costs guaranteed by the State if they could not get them out of their opponents. This would mean that the Bill had a very different purpose indeed.

As was explained on Second Reading, the purpose of the Bill is to try to deal with the anomalous situations which do arise in the course of the administration of the Legal Aid and Advice Act. It is not its purpose to put every citizen in a better position, by guaranteeing that he will be able to recover his costs from the State if he is successful, than he might otherwise be, but only to try to help

where State assistance to one party has caused hardship to the other. This is the difference between acceptance of the Amendment and its rejection by the Committee, which I suggest is the right course.