§ (1) Part IV of the Criminal Justice Act 1967 (which relates to legal aid in criminal proceedings) shall have effect subject to the provisions of Schedule (Modifications of Part IV of Criminal Justice Act 1967) to this Act (being provisions for applying the said Part IV to certain proceedings under Part I of this Act and for modifying the said Part IV in certain minor respects in relation to juveniles).
§ (2) Legal aid in pursuance of the Legal Aid and Advice Act 1949 shall not be given in respect of any proceedings in respect of which legal aid may be given by virtue of the preceding subsection.—[Mr. Elystan Morgan.]
§ Brought up, and read the First time.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
We can discuss at the same time Amendment No. 86, in page 30, line 33, after 'remand', insert 'or legal aid', the new Schedule entitled "Modifications of Part IV of Criminal Justice Act 1967", and Amendment No. 127, in page 90, line 49, column 3 [Schedule 5], at end insert:'In section 77(1), the words "on his means"'.
§ Mr. Morgan
The new Clause is a paving provision for the new Schedule which amends Park IV of the Criminal Justice Act, 1967, which deals with legal aid in criminal proceedings.
1014 The Amendments have two objects. The first is to fulfil the undertaking given in Committee on 27th March to consider whether the criminal legal aid system should apply to care proceedings. The Government have come to the conclusion that it should, and the Amendments so provide.
The second purpose is this. Section 78 of the 1967 Act, dealing with legal aid in criminal proceedings, empowers the Secretary of State to make regulations providing that in the case of infants the resources and commitments of other persons may be taken into account. In the Legal Aid in Criminal Proceedings (Assessment of Resources) Regulations, 1968, the Secretary of State has made such regulations. The persons whose resources and commitments may be taken into account are persons liable to maintain the infant, or who would be so liable if he were under the age of 16, and other persons having charge or control of him except local authorities and persons having charge or control for a temporary purpose, or by reason of any contract. The 1967 Act, however, makes no provision for the court to require such a person to complete a statement of his means before legal aid can be given to the applicant and no provision for requiring him to make a contribution or enforcing it against him.
The Government are of the opinion that in the case of children under the age 1015 of 16, it should be possible to enforce a contribution against the parents, if their means permit, in both criminal and care proceedings. The Amendments so provide. The reason why the age of 16 has been chosen and not 17, which is the upper age for juvenile proceedings, or 18, which will be the new age of majority, is that it seems reasonable to be able to enforce a contribution against the parents only where they are legally liable to maintain the child. Under Section 22 of the Ministry of Social Security Act, 1966, that liability comes to an end at the age of 16. The effect will be that between 16 and the new age of majority, the parent's resources and commitments may be taken into account as under the existing law, but there will be no power to enforce a contribution against a parent.
The provisions applying the criminal legal aid system to care proceedings apply also where there is an appeal to quarter sessions in those proceedings; where the child or young person is the subject of an application under Clause 15, under which the supervisor may bring a supervised person before the court; where the child or young person is the subject of an application under Clause 21(1), which enables the local authority to apply for a care order to be extended from 18 to 19 years of age, or under Clause 21(2), which deals with applications for the discharge of a care order: and also where there is an application under Clause 29, under which an order may be made removing a young person in care to borstal. Subsection (2) of the new Clause takes legal aid in care proceedings out of the civil legal aid system.
The new Schedule—Amendment No. 114—and the other Amendments grouped with the new Clause are consequential.
§ Mr. Carlisle
Since the new Clause is in response to an Amendment which I moved in Committee, I am grateful to the Government for looking at this matter and for deciding that criminal legal aid rather than civil legal aid should apply in care proceedings.
It is somewhat surprising, but I am sure that it is a necessary form of drafting, that an Amendment which I succeeded in putting down in two and a half lines in Committee now appears as a Schedule which occupies two pages as 1016 well as several other Amendments. I assume, however, that it is all correctly drafted, and I am grateful to the Government.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.