HC Deb 27 January 1959 vol 598 cc857-8
4. Mr. Chapman

asked the Attorney-General whether he is aware that under the Legal Aid and Advice Act people of slender means are being assessed as able to pay sums they cannot afford; and when he proposes to amend this Act and its Regulations so as at least to revise the figures for disposable income and disposable capital to allow for the fall in the value of money in the last 10 years.

The Attorney-General

I have nothing to add to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member on 16th December, 1958.

Mr. Chapman

If we make allowance for the fall in the value of money, are we not being very unjust as compared with the standard applied ten years ago? For example, is it really right that a lady with only £5 10s. a week coming in and with £150 in the bank—a very slender situation—should be assessed as able to pay £126 10s. towards the costs of her case? Cannot we be a little more generous than that?

The Attorney-General

The assessment is made by the National Assistance Board in accordance with the Regulations now in force. I would point out to the hon. Gentleman that the Government are committed to introducing Sections 5 and 7 of the Legal Aid and Advice Act during this and the next financial year. As I replied to him on 16th December last, once this scheme has been launched my noble Friend the Lord Chancellor will see what can be done about the financial provisions governing the rate of contribution of a person seeking legal aid.