HC Deb 21 January 1971 vol 809 cc1249-50
4. Mr. Clinton Davis

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will send a circular to all magistrates' courts and juvenile courts, recommending that, in all cases where a custodial sentence is capable of being imposed, whether or not such sentence might be suspended, the court should expressly draw to the attention of the accused his entitlement to apply for legal aid.

Mr. Carlisle

Courts have been advised on the giving of information to defendants about facilities for legal aid. My right hon. Friend is considering whether any further guidance is called for.

Mr. Davis

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that reply. May we be told when the Home Secretary is likely to complete his deliberations on that point? Would he also bear in mind the present total inadequacy of charge sheets as regards any reference to legal aid? Whereas in other respects the charge sheet specifically headlines issues, it does not do so in respect of legal aid.

Mr. Carlisle

Circulars were sent to justices' clerks in 1968 and as recently as last October a circular went to the courts about the Children and Young Persons Act reminding them of legal aid within those terms. We are considering whether any further guidance is called for, and I will let the hon. Gentleman know the result of our considerations. I am by no means certain at this stage that guidance is needed.