HC Deb 17 June 1958 vol 589 cc896-7
60. Mr. Janner

asked the Attorney-General whether he is now prepared to extend the granting of legal aid to enable legal advice to be taken by persons of slender means.

The Attorney-General (Sir Reginald Manningham-Buller)

As he announced in a statement made in another place on 12th June, my noble Friend the Lord Chancellor has accepted proposals placed before him by the Law Society for implementing Section 7 of the Legal Aid and Advice Act, 1949. The proposals provide for solicitors in ordinary practice giving oral advice for a fee paid out of the Legal Aid Fund and my noble Friend intends, if sufficient solicitors indicate their willingness to undertake the work, to bring Section 7 of the Act into force towards the end of this financial year. He would expect to follow that by bringing Section 5, the remaining Section dealing with legal advice, into force in the next financial year.

Mr. Janner

May I thank the Attorney-General for his reply and ask that the second portion of the scheme may be expedited?

61. Mr. Janner

asked the Attorney-General whether, in view of the report of the Law Society on the operation and finance of Part 1 of the Legal Aid and Advice Act, 1949, he will amend Sections 2 and 3 of that Act so as to enable free legal aid to be given where the disposable income of an applicant is above £156, and to exclude from legal aid those persons whose disposable income is over £600 instead of £420.

The Attorney-General

My noble Friend the Lord Chancellor has reluctantly decided that he cannot at present revise the financial provisions of the Legal Aid Scheme, but he will see what can be done when the Legal Advice Scheme is in operation.

Mr. Janner

Is the Attorney-General aware, as I am sure he must be, that the provisions as they now stand are making it extremely difficult indeed for litigants of slender means to pursue their cases, that very large demands are being made upon them for payments which they cannot bear and that in many cases they have to reject all assistance and do the best they possibly can with help from friends in order to pursue their cases? Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman look at the matter again?

The Attorney-General

My noble Friend is, of course, aware of the views expressed by the Advisory Committee on these matters.

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