They cover legal advice and assistance under the green form scheme. From £60 million spent on criminal legal aid in 1979, it is expected that next year we shall spend about £130 million. We should always be cautious of the increasing cost of legal aid.
The assessment of legal aid has hitherto been carried out by the DHSS. In my own constituency, the DHSS has been responsible for assessments over many years. It is planned that the assessment will now take place by means of a postal declaration form. A number of people at the DHSS feel that the result will not be a financial saving to the legal aid fund, because, when given a form and asked to state one's means, the temptation is perhaps to minimise one's capital and income. A person may perhaps not disclose matters which he should. Apart from fearing possible job losses if their work is replaced by a pro forma which an applicant completes, people in the DHSS are also concerned about whether the proposal will save money in the long run.
Does the Solicitor-General believe that the postal declaration form for civil legal aid applicants will save money, or does he fear that it will cost jobs, as my constituents fear that it will?