HL Deb 18 February 1993 vol 542 cc1244-5

3.12 p.m.

Lord Archer of Sandwell asked Her Majesty's Government:

What was the cost of printing and publishing the leaflet Legal Aid: The Facts.

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Mackay of Clashfern)

My Lords, the cost of printing and publishing Legal Aid: The Facts was £2,262.

Lord Archer of Sandwell

My Lords, I thank the noble and learned Lord for that information. Would he agree that wherever possible it is better to spend money on legal aid than to spend money explaining why we have not spent the money on legal aid? Has he had an opportunity to consider the proposals of the professionals as an alternative to reducing eligibility?

The Lord Chancellor

My Lords, where proposals are being made to alter the terms of eligibility, it is right that the debate should be conducted with an understanding of the facts. For that purpose I had the pamphlet prepared, printed and published.

I have had the opportunity of considering the profession's proposals. The results of that consideration are not yet complete. I have already indicated to noble Lords that so far I have not received proposals which will give me with any assurance the figures I need in order to have the legal aid budget on the lines that I have several times described to your Lordships.

Baroness Hamwee

My Lords, will the noble and learned Lord accept that there are many in this House who accept that it is appropriate to disseminate information? That being so, would he perhaps tell noble Lords to whom the leaflet is addressed? Will he also accept that it might be more helpful if the information were cast so as to say not that it is not the poorest who will be affected but that people on levels of income above income support will be affected?

The Lord Chancellor

My Lords, the precise style in which a document of that kind is couched is a matter of judgment. So far as I am concerned, the purpose of the document was to make those facts available to everyone who wanted to have them. All noble Lords can have them and many have the leaflet already. It was sent to all Members of the House of Commons and has been made available to the public. Anyone who wants a copy is very welcome to have one.

Lord Stallard

My Lords, will the noble and learned Lord confirm or deny reports that what is known as the green form scheme is about to be abolished?

The Lord Chancellor

My Lords, the green form scheme will continue so far as it applies to people who do not have to make a contribution. In so far as a contribution is required, I do not intend to continue it. Those who need it most will still have it.

Lord Richard

My Lords, the noble and learned Lord talked a few minutes ago about the savings that he needs to make. Can he confirm to the House, and be quite clear about the matter, whether or not he is prepared to consider other methods of making those savings apart from the reduction of eligibility?

The Lord Chancellor

My Lords, I have said repeatedly, and have no hesitation in repeating it except to prevent noble Lords being bored by my repetition, that of course I am content to consider other ways of doing so, so long as those ways give me a reasonable assurance that I can reach the figures in question.