HC Deb 16 July 1969 vol 787 cc603-4
31. Mr. Dempsey

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will take steps

others. There are limitations on the point which the hon. Gentleman mentions.

to extend the Legal Aid Scheme to special cases being tried in burgh and justice of the peace courts; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Buchan

I regret that there is no prospect, in the present economic situation, of an extension of the Legal Aid Scheme to such proceedings.

Mr. Dempsey

Will my hon. Friend at least keep the matter within his view? Is he aware that there are some genuine cases in which legitimate defences cannot be properly argued because of insufficient financial resources to employ the necessary legal representatives for that duty? Will he bear that point in mind when considering any future liberalisation in policy?

Mr. Buchan

We will take all aspects into account.

Mrs. Ewing

Apart from the question of expense, does the hon. Gentleman take the point that these courts are often those in which members of the public come up against the force and majesty of the law for the first time, and that it might be more important to ensure that no one is denied legal representation through lack of funds in these courts more than in any other court?

Mr. Buchan

I agree with the first half of the hon. Lady's supplementary question: I disagree with the second half.