Legal Aid

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 9th February 2010.

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Photo of Mark Harper Mark Harper Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions) 2:30 pm, 9th February 2010

When he next expects to meet the chief executive of the Legal Services Commission to discuss the commission's work in procurement of legal aid in England and Wales.

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Photo of Bridget Prentice Bridget Prentice Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Ministry of Justice

Meetings are regularly held with the Legal Services Commission, at which a wide range of issues are discussed. One of the key current items on the agenda is the Public Accounts Committee report, which we welcome.

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Photo of Mark Harper Mark Harper Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions)

I am very pleased that the Minister will be discussing those issues. When she meets the LSC chief executive, will she discuss why it overpaid solicitors by £25 million in 2008-09, why its accounts have been qualified, and why the head of the National Audit Office says that it does not understand the markets in which it is buying services? Is that not an appalling record that needs to be fixed?

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Photo of Bridget Prentice Bridget Prentice Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Ministry of Justice

If I may just correct the hon. Gentleman, it will not be me who will be meeting the LSC; it will be my noble Friend Lord Bach. Having spoken to Lord Bach, I can assure the hon. Gentleman that he will be discussing the issue of overpayment. Since the NAO report came out, 10 per cent. has already been recovered. We are taking a very robust view on the way in which the whole thing has been dealt with, and I assure the hon. Gentleman that further information will be forthcoming shortly.

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