HC Deb 15 December 1948 vol 459 cc1327-9

Considered in Committee under Standing Order No. 84 (Money Committees). — (King's Recommendation signified.)

[Major MILNER in the Chair]

Motion made, and Question proposed, That, for the purposes of any Act of the present Session to make legal aid and advice in England and Wales, and in the case of members of the forces legal advice elsewhere, more readily available for persons of small or moderate means, to enable the cost of legal aid or advice for such persons to be defrayed wholly or partly out of moneys provided by Parliament, and for purposes connected therewith, it is expedient to authorise—

  1. A. The payment out of moneys provided by Parliament of the net sums required to meet payments out of any fund set up under the Act in connection with the provision of legal aid and legal advice if (subject to any discretion of the Lord Chancellor to modify the Act by regulations thereunder to meet special cases)—
  2. 1328
    1. (a) legal aid under the Act—
      1. (i) is not made available for persons whose disposable income as determined under the Act exceeds four hundred and twenty pounds a year; and
      2. (ii) may be refused to a person if he has a disposable capital as so determined of more than five hundred pounds and it appears he can afford to proceed without legal aid; and
    2. (b) a person given legal aid under the Act may be required to contribute to the fund up to a maximum equal to one-half the amount by which his disposable income as so determined exceeds one hundred and fifty-six pounds a year together with the full amount by which his disposable capital as so determined exceeds seventy-five pounds (subject, however, to repayment of any excess of the contribution over the net liability of the fund on his account);
  3. B. The payment out of moneys provided by Parliament of any increase in the expenses of the National Assistance Board attributable to any provision of the Act relating to the determination of a person's disposable income or capital or to a person's contribution to any such fund as aforesaid;
  4. C. The payment out of moneys provided by Parliament of travelling and other allowances to members of any advisory committee set up by the Lord Chancellor for the purposes of the Act;
  5. D. The repayment to local funds out of moneys provided by Parliament of any costs paid out of those funds by virtue—
    1. (a) of any grant of free legal aid under the Criminal Appeal Act, 1907, the Poor Prisoners' Defence Act, 1930, or the Summary Jurisdiction (Appeals) Act, 1933, as amended, extended or applied by any other Act (including the said Act of the present Session): or
    2. (b) of a person's defence before a court of assize or quarter sessions being conducted by counsel at the request of the judge or chairman of the court."—[The Attorney-General.]

Mr. Royle (Salford, West)

I apologise to the Committee for rising at this time, but I want to express my concern about a matter which has been dealt with several times today during the Second Reading Debate on the Bill, and one to which my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State referred in his reply. I want to draw the attention of the Committee—

The Chairman

I am afraid the hon. Gentleman is not entitled to repeat arguments on the Money Resolution which have been advanced on Second Reading.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton (Brixton)

I want to register my protest against the Financial Resolution on the ground that it will deprive hon. Members of this Committee of any opportunity of putting forward any Amendments on the Committee stage relating to the assessment or fixation of capital or income in the Bill as it stands.

Mr. Royle

On a point of Order. I was trying to develop my case, and those were only my opening sentences. I want to support what my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Brixton (Lieut.-Colonel Lipton) has just said. In my estimation, the provisions stated in the Money Resolution, from paragraph A (i) onwards are insufficient. I feel that when this Bill goes upstairs to Committee there ought to be full opportunity for discussing details of this kind in the way that only the Committee upstairs can deal with them. In the past we have had the experience of desiring to raise an Amendment during the Committee stage upstairs and of the Amendment being ruled out of Order because it did not come within the scope of the Money Resolution. I am expressing the hope that, even at this stage, my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General might see his way to do something by way of compromise, or even to defer the matter so that the Committee upstairs might have an opportunity of discussing this very important point.

Resolution to be reported To-morrow.