HC Deb 22 June 1953 vol 516 cc117-8W
99. Brigadier Medlicott

asked the Attorney-General if his attention has been drawn to the disclosure in the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General that litigants who have received legal aid under the Legal Aid and Advice Act, 1949, were £61,000 in arrear with their contributions to the Legal Aid Fund at the end of March, 1952; if he is also aware that an increasing number of assisted persons appear to be falling into arrear with their payments; and what steps will be taken to improve upon this situation.

The Attorney-General

Yes. Most of the arrears are due to the temporary financial embarrassment of assisted persons or to the fact that the costs payable to the Fund are being, or are about to be, met by opposite parties. The Legal Aid Fund incurs no loss in these cases. In about 16 per cent. of the cases the arrears are due to assisted persons failing to fulfil their obligations for other reasons; there were just over 1,000 of these cases on the 12th June and in some of them the Law Society have taken proceedings. The Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General will presumably be considered by the Public Accounts Committee and it is not proposed to take any special steps.

Mr. N. Nicolson

asked the Attorney-General if he will take steps to ensure that the courts call the attention of needy litigants to the facilities provided under the Legal Aid Scheme in cases where the litigant appears to be unaware of the facilities.

The Attorney-General

I think the scheme is so well known that no further action to bring it to the attention of litigants is required, but if the hon. Member has any specific point in mind I will be glad to consider it.