HC Deb 09 July 1970 vol 803 cc835-7
27. Mr. Janner

asked the Attorney-General if he will raise the upper income limit for eligibility for legal aid.

The Attorney-General

Yes, Sir. The Government have been advised by the Legal Aid Advisory Committee which has made certain recommendations. Accordingly, the Government propose to withdraw Regulations laid on 28th May and to replace them with new.

Mr. Janner

Will the right hon. Gentleman accept that great anxiety and hardship are suffered by people who are just outside the present legal aid limits and who cannot afford to pay for the legal representation which they require? Will he therefore indicate the stages which will be introduced for further steps in this direction?

The Attorney-General

We have received advice from the Legal Aid Advisory Committee which makes advisable certain changes in the regulations which were made. The effect of the new regulations will be to leave the average applicant in the same position as he was under the regulations laid by my predcessor in May. Some exceptional cases will be better off, and some will be marginally worse off, but that will be only marginal.

Sir Elwyn Jones

I should like to congratulate the Attorney-General on his appointment. In view of the urgency of this matter, does he propose to lay the relevant regulations before the Parliamentary Recess?

The Attorney-General

I thank the right hon. and learned Gentleman for his courtesy. I will take instructions from those who know better than I about that matter, but it is appreciated that the subject is important, and that there is also Scotland to consider.

Mr. Hiley

Will the Attorney-General bear in mind, before he makes any changes, that many experienced magistrates consider that at present the legal aid system is grossly abused?

The Attorney-General

It is always important that any such scheme should be properly and fairly administered. If my hon. Friend has any evidence of any matter which should be investigated, I should be grateful to receive it.