HC Deb 13 June 1961 vol 642 cc186-7
28. Mr. Steele

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he proposes to bring into operation the provisions of the Legal Aid (Scotland) Act, 1949, so far as they relate to criminal proceedings.

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. John Maclay)

These provisions have been reviewed by a Committee, under the chairmanship of Lord Guthrie, which considered whether they should be varied in the light of experience of civil legal aid and any other relevant circum- stances. I am considering the Committee's Report but regret that I am not yet ready to make a statement.

Mr. Steele

Is the Secretary of State aware that this reply is very disappointing? Is he not aware that legal aid for criminal proceedings has been in operation in England and Wales since March, 1960, and that the Guthrie Report was published in May, 1960? Surely this has taken a long time. Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that Scotland deserves better than this?

Mr. Maclay

The English position is very different. I will write to the hon. Member to explain the detail, which is rather complicated.

29. Mr. Steele

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make further provision to recompense agents for poor people in criminal proceedings in view of the threatened breakdown of the present service.

Mr. Maclay

I am considering the whole question of legal aid in criminal proceedings, including the payments made to agents who appear in court, in the light of the Report of the Guthrie Committee.

Mr. Steele

But is not the Secretary of State aware that this was an interim payment which was arranged until such time as the payment under legal aid in criminal proceedings was arranged? Is he not aware that this present amount is totally inadequate, and could he not arrange for some extension of this payment until such time as he has made up his mind and brought in proper procedure for Scotland?

Mr. Maclay

I will certainly bear in mind what the hon. Member has said.

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