HC Deb 10 April 1972 vol 834 cc846-7
30. Mrs. Sally Oppenheim

asked the Attorney-General what plan she has to increase the Government grant to the Legal Aid Fund, specifically for the purpose of publicising new entitlements under the Legal Advice and Assistance Bill.

The Attorney-General (Sir Peter Rawlinson)

There will be laid before Parliament, after the passage of the Legal Advice and Assistance Bill, estimates of the Grant to the Legal Aid Fund. These will include provision for the new service and for publicising its effects.

Mrs. Oppenheim

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that this is welcome news? However, does he agree that it is disturbing that there is such diversity throughout the country with regard to the take-up of existing legal aid and advice services and that a national television campaign, similar to the pilot scheme recently run by the Law Society, might be very effective in overcoming this difficulty and, indeed, will be highly necessary with regard to the new benefits under the £25 scheme when it comes into operation?

The Attorney-General

I certainly agree with my hon. Friend about the importance of publicising the effects and showing the advantages which can be obtained under the scheme. I will certainly bear in mind what she said, particularly in following up the pilot television and Press campaign in the North-East. I agree that it is most important that all should know their rights under the scheme when it becomes law.

Sir Elwyn Jones

First, could greater use be made of public notices of this scheme in public institutions, town halls, courts and places of that kind? Secondly, is the right hon. and learned Gentleman satisfied that the citizens' advice bureaux are fully informed about the availability of the scheme and of the facilities which it makes available to litigants, whether they be civil or criminal?

The Attorney-General

Yes. I will follow up the proposals and suggestions made by both the right hon. and learned gentleman and my hon. Friend.

Mr. Fletcher-Cooke

Will my right hon. and learned Friend ensure that all Members of Parliament are given the literature on this subject, because, if they can pass it on to their constituents it is liable to lighten the workload considerably in their surgeries?

The Attorney-General

Yes. I agree with that as well.