HC Deb 02 December 1971 vol 827 cc640-1
24. Mr. David Stoddart

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department in what proportion of cases reasons are given when legal aid is refused to applicants.

Mr. Carlisle

I regret that this information is not available. Courts are not required to give reasons for refusing legal aid in criminal proceedings.

Mr. Stoddart

That is a most unsatisfactory answer. It is a great pity that the hon. and learned Gentleman does not have some kind of information. I have been told that many people are refused legal aid on no apparent grounds, aid which is probably due to them. Will the hon. and learned Gentleman reconsider the position with a view to amending the Criminal Justice Bill to provide that applicants for legal aid are given the reasons for refusal?

Mr. Carlisle

My original answer was factual, that the information was not available. It is true that Justice and a memorandum from the Law Society have made this recommendation recently. Such views will be considered, but it is important to realise that the take-up of legal aid in magistrates' courts has increased enormously in the past four years.