HC Deb 12 June 1984 vol 61 cc745-6
4. Ms. Harman

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if, in his rewriting of his Department's legal aid instructions, the L code, he will revise the instructions about section 22 of the Legal Aid Act.

The Minister for Social Security (Dr. Rhodes Boyson)

No decision has yet been taken.

Ms. Harman

Is it not about time the Minister admitted that the instruction to DHSS officers to breach section 22 of the Legal Aid Act is a blatant piece of law breaking by the Government? Are there not double standards, in that there appears to be no prosecution of that blatant piece of law breaking? Should not the hon. Gentleman resign over the fact that he has presided over giving an instruction which breaches the criminal law in an important respect?

Dr. Boyson

It seems to be a heavy casualty day—like D-day plus seven today. We are awaiting legal advice from the Attorney-General, who is giving this matter his urgent attention. [Interruption.] I mention to the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson), who is enjoying his time in the Commons, that the arrangements under this Government are the same as those that have been in operation since 1951, under three or four Labour Governments. Former Ministers in those Governments are now on the Labour Opposition Front Bench.

Mr. Ernie Ross

Is the Minister not ashamed at making funny remarks from the Dispatch Box about official secrecy being used to cover up official law breaking, when his officials are attempting in some instances to prosecute women who wish to spend a night with a friend and when the unemployed are being pressurised by snoopers?

Dr. Boyson

The basis of the social security system is that it should give help to those who need it, not to those who do not. That has been the intention of every Government and it is this Government's intention as well.