HC Deb 07 December 1953 vol 521 cc1585-6
1. Mr. Remnant

asked the Attorney-General why an individual, granted free legal aid when seeking a divorce, is debarred from such aid if the court order needs enforcing for the payment of alimony.

The Attorney-General (Sir Lionel Heald)

The litigant is debarred from receiving legal aid only if the certifying committee decide that it is unreasonable that enforcement proceedings should be brought in the High Court. If my hon. Friend will let me have the details of any case he may have in mind, I will, of course, gladly have it investigated.

Mr. Remnant

I shall accept my hon. and learned Friend's invitation with pleasure, but will he not agree that there is an invitation to default if the offending party knows that the innocent party, while granted free legal aid to prosecute the divorce, is debarred from it in prosecuting the enforcement of the judgment of the court?

The Attorney-General

I think I should prefer to know the actual details of the case before expressing an opinion.

3. Mr. Janner

asked the Attorney-General whether he will make a statement in respect of the granting of legal aid to litigants in county court actions.

The Attorney-General

The question of extending the Legal Aid Scheme to the county court is still under consideration.

Mr. Janner

As the Government are now introducing fresh measures whereby cases can be tried in the county court, and as cases have been remitted from the High Court to the county court, in which this difficulty has arisen, can the hon. and learned Gentleman tell us when he is likely to be able to make a definite decision on this matter?

The Attorney-General

I only wish I could.

Mr. Janner

With the greatest respect, I am sure that it is quite within the power of the hon. and learned Gentleman to have this matter dealt with, and dealt with speedily, and I hope he will exercise his influence in that direction.

Mr. Speaker

That is not a question.

Mr. E. Fletcher

In view of what the Attorney-General has said, would he not agree that it is very desirable, and might save a lot of expense, if the provisions in the Act for giving free legal advice were brought into operation?

The Attorney-General

That is one of the questions to be considered in relation to whether one or the other or both of those things can be introduced.