HC Deb 23 June 1942 vol 380 c1799
59. Mr. E. Walkden

asked the Attorney-General whether the new scheme of legal aid for the Army will be available to all ranks; and why it has been deemed necessary to subject the applicants for this form of assistance to a means test?

The Solicitor-General (Major Sir David Maxwell Fyfe)

As my right hon. and learned Friend stated in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Moelwyn Hughes) on 29th April, a public statement on the details of the proposed scheme for free legal aid for the lower ranks of the Army will be made by my Noble Friend as soon as it is ready to be put into operation. I understand that the scheme will cover all ranks up to and including the rank of sergeant, but that it is not intended to include those few cases where the soldier happens to have substantial private means and is in a position to pay for legal advice.

Mr. Walkden

In view of the fact that the Welfare Department of the Army issued a statement over three weeks ago announcing that this service would only be for men who have no means apart from their Army pay, would the hon. and learned Gentleman not compare that with the trade unions, who give legal advice free of charge to members, irrespective of their earnings, and will he accordingly give the same consideration to men in the Army as the trade unions give to their members?

The Solicitor-General

I am sure that my Noble Friend will take that into consideration with any other helpful suggestions he may receive.

Mr. Bellenger

Why is the hon. and learned Gentleman's Noble Friend concerned? Is not this a matter for the War Office?

The Solicitor-General

In order that the free legal aid may be efficacious it is necessary to employ lawyers and to secure the co-operation of the legal profession. Therefore my Noble Friend must be concerned.