Legal Aid (Industrial Tribunals)

Oral Answers to Questions — Lord Chancellor's Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd March 1997.

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Photo of Mr John Marshall Mr John Marshall , Hendon South 12:00 am, 3rd March 1997

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what representations he has received on extending legal aid to cases before industrial tribunals. [16725]

Photo of Gary Streeter Gary Streeter Parliamentary Secretary (Lord Chancellor's Department)

A number of representations on extending the scheme to cases before industrial tribunals and other tribunals were received by the Department in response to the Lord Chancellor's Green Paper on legal aid published in May 1995.

Photo of Mr John Marshall Mr John Marshall , Hendon South

Does my hon. Friend agree that such a course of action would merely burden the already overburdened legal aid fund, place additional burdens on industry and make job creation more difficult? Will he therefore comment on the interview in the New Statesman with Lord Irvine of Lairg?

Photo of Gary Streeter Gary Streeter Parliamentary Secretary (Lord Chancellor's Department)

My hon. Friend knows that our policy is to bring the legal aid budget under control—to bring an end to its demand-led, runaway nature before any thoughts of applying legal aid elsewhere can be entertained. I was therefore shocked to read the shadow Lord Chancellor's proposals to extend legal aid to industrial tribunals that appeared in the New Statesman in December. [Interruption.] I have it here and can read it if the hon. Member for Brent, South (Mr. Boateng) wants me to.

Every year, 80,000 cases are heard by industrial tribunals. If only half of them were to attract £1,000 per case, that would add £40 million to the legal aid bill. Is it any wonder that the first act of any unlikely incoming Labour Government would be to have a summer Budget to pay for their massive spending plans?

Photo of Mr Greville Janner Mr Greville Janner , Leicester West

Has the Minister considered what steps he could take to provide aid, legal or otherwise, for himself and his colleagues when they consider themselves unfairly dismissed by an ungrateful but fairly discerning electorate?

Photo of Gary Streeter Gary Streeter Parliamentary Secretary (Lord Chancellor's Department)

We Conservatives believe in democracy. Although the hon. and learned Gentleman has served with distinction in the House, he has never been very good at predicting the future: he was wrong in 1992 and he is wrong today.