Oral Answers to Questions — Legal Aid

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 9th July 1970.

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Photo of Mr Greville Janner Mr Greville Janner , Leicester North West 12:00 am, 9th July 1970

asked the Attorney-General if he will raise the upper income limit for eligibility for legal aid.

Photo of Mr Peter Rawlinson Mr Peter Rawlinson , Epsom

Yes, Sir. The Government have been advised by the Legal Aid Advisory Committee which has made certain recommendations. Accordingly, the Government propose to withdraw Regulations laid on 28th May and to replace them with new.

Photo of Mr Greville Janner Mr Greville Janner , Leicester North West

Will the right hon. Gentleman accept that great anxiety and hardship are suffered by people who are just outside the present legal aid limits and who cannot afford to pay for the legal representation which they require? Will he therefore indicate the stages which will be introduced for further steps in this direction?

Photo of Mr Peter Rawlinson Mr Peter Rawlinson , Epsom

We have received advice from the Legal Aid Advisory Committee which makes advisable certain changes in the regulations which were made. The effect of the new regulations will be to leave the average applicant in the same position as he was under the regulations laid by my predcessor in May. Some exceptional cases will be better off, and some will be marginally worse off, but that will be only marginal.

Photo of Sir Elwyn Jones Sir Elwyn Jones , West Ham South

I should like to congratulate the Attorney-General on his appointment. In view of the urgency of this matter, does he propose to lay the relevant regulations before the Parliamentary Recess?

Photo of Mr Peter Rawlinson Mr Peter Rawlinson , Epsom

I thank the right hon. and learned Gentleman for his courtesy. I will take instructions from those who know better than I about that matter, but it is appreciated that the subject is important, and that there is also Scotland to consider.

Photo of Mr Joseph Hiley Mr Joseph Hiley , Pudsey

Will the Attorney-General bear in mind, before he makes any changes, that many experienced magistrates consider that at present the legal aid system is grossly abused?

Photo of Mr Peter Rawlinson Mr Peter Rawlinson , Epsom

It is always important that any such scheme should be properly and fairly administered. If my hon. Friend has any evidence of any matter which should be investigated, I should be grateful to receive it.