HL Deb 10 November 1987 vol 489 c1288

3.4 p.m.

Viscount Hanworth

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are satisfied that county courts provide enough help to claimants who do not employ a solicitor.

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Mackay of Clashfern)

Yes, my Lords. County court staff give such claimants the assistance they may require on procedural matters. Their duties do not however extend to giving legal advice for which they are neither trained nor qualified.

Viscount Hanworth

My Lords, while I thank the noble and learned Lord for that reply, may I ask what steps, if any, have been taken to find out whether all county courts are being as helpful as they should be? Is the noble and learned Lord aware that in my experience some county courts are helpful while others are not?

The Lord Chancellor

My Lords, the general understanding among county court staff is that, when asked, they should give such advice on procedural matters as I have mentioned. If the noble Viscount has any particular case in mind where such advice has not been given and if he would draw it to my attention, I shall see that it is not repeated.

Lord Elwyn-Jones

My Lords, as the duty solicitor schemes do not apply to county courts, will the noble and learned Lord have inquiry made into the complaints of the various bodies like the CABs, the law centres and local advisory agencies, which complain bitterly of lack of funds, and ensure that they are properly funded in order to perform this important public duty?

The Lord Chancellor

My Lords, I think that that is another question.