Legal Aid Scheme

Justice written question – answered on 12th September 2013.

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Photo of Caroline Lucas Caroline Lucas Green, Brighton, Pavilion

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what assessment he has made, and on what evidential basis, of (a) the amount of time prisoners are likely to spend in custody and (b) the amount of specialist law experience that will be available following implementation of his Transforming Legal Aid proposals; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Jeremy Wright Jeremy Wright The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

Between 9 April and 4 June 2013 the Government consulted on a number of proposals to reform legal aid via the “Transforming Legal Aid: delivering a more credible and efficient system” consultation. This included proposals to restrict the scope of legal aid for prison law. We have been clear we must continue to bear down on the cost of legal aid, including around £1 billion of taxpayers' money spent on criminal legal aid a year, to ensure we are getting the best deal for the taxpayer and to address questions of public confidence in the legal aid system.

The Impact Assessments (IAs) published alongside the consultation paper contain the Government's initial assessment of the impact of the proposals, including that for prison law, and contain data on which the assessments were made.

Impact Assessments will be published alongside the forthcoming response, setting out the Government's final assessment of the impact of the proposals to be implemented, although it should be noted that the consultation did not propose any changes to current sentencing policy.

We sought views from respondents to the consultation on the factors we should consider when designing the criteria for any future procurement process for criminal legal aid contracts and these are now being considered. We have no intention of lowering the quality standards from current levels and therefore will ensure any specialist skills or experience standards against which providers are currently assessed will as a minimum be maintained.

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