HL Deb 18 March 1986 vol 472 cc924-6

7.3 p.m.

Lord Elwyn-Jones rose to move, That this House regrets the retrogressive actions of the Government in regard to legal aid and advice.

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, the matter which arises in this debate is not a small one at all. The question we are having to consider is, if savings in the legal aid scheme are to be found—we are talking about £7½ million—from whom should those savings be derived; from the people most able to pay the money that is sought, or those least able? This is directed against the least able people living on the fringe of entitlement to supplementary benefit. They are the poorest families in the country and they are the people who are to be punished by this proposal to save £7½ million. There was an attempt by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, to justify what is being done by the savings effected by the ABWOR proposals. Those, as I understand it, will be minimal, but will in no way amount to the extractions proposed by these new regulations.

My information is that about 9,000 more people living on the fringe of supplementary benefit will have to find money to promote their interests in court. It is their interests that are being sacrificed. In the future millions of families could be adversely affected. This is, in my submission with great respect, a shaming way of saving money, for this great country with its enormous wealth and income that now we should seek to save £7½ million on legal aid by making the poorest people in the country with families make up the costs. I beg to move.

Moved, That this House regrets the retrogressive actions of the Government in regard to legal aid and advice.—(Lord Elwyn-Jones.)

The Lord Chancellor

My Lords, I shall not repeat myself, but those affected are at the top of the contribution limit and not at the bottom. They are therefore not those most in need of aid.

7.5 p.m.

On Question, Whether the Motion shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided; Contents, 83; Not-Contents, 115.

Airedale, L. Denington, B.
Amherst, E. Elwyn-Jones, L.
Ardwick, L. Ennals, L.
Barnett, L. Ewart-Biggs, B.
Bernstein, L. Falkender, B.
Birk, B. Fisher of Rednal, B.
Blease, L. Gallacher, L.
Bottomley, L. Galpern, L.
Brockway, L. Graham of Edmonton, L. [Teller.]
Brooks of Tremorfa, L.
Campbell of Eskan, L. Grey, E.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L. Hampton, L.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L. Hanworth, V.
Collison, L. Hatch of Lusby, L.
David, B. Heycock, L.
Dean of Beswick, L. Jacques, L.
Jenkins of Putney, L. Rhodes, L.
John-Mackie, L. Ritchie of Dundee, L.
Kagan, L. Rochester, L.
Kaldor, L. Ross of Marnock, L.
Kilbracken, L. Seear, B.
Kilmarnock, L. Sefton of Garston, L.
Kirkhill, L. Serota, B.
Kissin, L. Shackleton, L.
Lawrence, L. Shepherd, L.
Lloyd of Kilgerran, L. Simon, V.
Lockwood, B. Stallard, L.
Lovell-Davis, L. Stedman, B.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Mackie of Benshie, L. Strabolgi, L.
McNair, L. Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Melchett, L. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Meston, L. Tordoff, L.
Mishcon, L. Turner of Camden, B.
Mulley, L. Underhill, L.
Murray of Epping Forest, L. Walston, L.
Nicol, B. Whaddon, L.
Ogmore, L. Wigoder, L.
Oram, L. Williams of Elvel, L.
Parry, L. Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.
Phillips, B.
Pitt of Hampstead, L. Winstanley, L.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L. [Teller.]
Airey of Abingdon, B. Hylton-Foster, B.
Allerton, L. Kaberry of Adel, L.
Ampthill, L. Kimball, L.
Ashbourne, L. King of Wartnaby, L.
Beaverbrook, L. Lane-Fox, B.
Belhaven and Stenton, L. Lauderdale, E.
Belstead, L. Layton, L.
Birdwood, L. Lindsey and Abingdon, E.
Boyd-Carpenter, L. Long, V.
Brabazon of Tara, L. Lurgan, L.
Brentford, V. Lyell, L.
Bridgeman, V. McFadzean, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Macleod of Borve, B.
Butterworth, L. MacLeod of Fuinary, L.
Caithness, E. Malmesbury, E.
Cameron of Lochbroom, L. Mancroft, L.
Campbell of Alloway, L. Margadale, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B. Marley, L.
Chelwood, L. Marshall of Leeds, L.
Cork and Orrery, E. Maude of Stratford-upon-
Cox, B. Avon, L.
Croft, L. Merrivale, L.
Cross, V. Mersey, V.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Milverton, L.
Davidson, V. Mottistone, L.
Denham, L. [Teller.] Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Denning, L. Munster, E.
Dundee, E. Napier and Ettrick, L.
Effingham, E. Newall, L.
Elliot of Harwood, B. Orkney, E.
Elliott of Morpeth, L. Orr-Ewing, L.
Elton, L. Peyton of Yeovil, L.
Fanshawe of Richmond, L. Radnor, E.
Ferrers, E. Reay, L.
Fortescue, E. Renwick, L.
Fraser of Kilmorack, L. Rochdale, V.
Geddes, L. Russell of Liverpool, L.
Gibson-Watt, L. St. Aldwyn, E.
Gisborough, L. Sanderson of Bowden, L.
Glanusk, L. Selkirk, E.
Glenarthur, L. Selsdon, L.
Gray of Contin, L. Sharples, B.
Greenway, L. Skelmersdale, L.
Grimston of Westbury, L. Stockton, E.
Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. Stodart of Leaston, L.
Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.
Halsbury, E.
Henley, L. Swinfen, L.
Holderness, L. Swinton, E. [Teller.]
Home of the Hirsel, L. Terrington, L.
Hooper, B. Teynham, L.
Thomas of Swynnerton, L. Vivian, L.
Thorneycroft, L. Waldegrave, E.
Torphichen, L. Ward of Witley, V.
Trefgarne, L. Whitelaw, V.
Trumpington, B. Windlesham, L.
Vaux of Harrowden, L. Wise, L.
Vickers, B. Wynford, L.
Vinson, L. Ypres, E.

Resolved in the negative, and Motion disagreed to accordingly.