§ 62 and 63. Mr Turner-Samuels
asked the Attorney-General (1) whether he is now in a position to make a statement with respect to extending the Legal Aid and Advice Act, 1949, to magistrates' courts and county courts, particularly having regard to aid and advice to parties in proceedings in such courts on matrimonial matters and in respect of the complicated questions arising, both as regards tenants and small houseowners and tenants of business premises, from the provisions of the Repairs and Rents Act, 1954, and the Landlord and Tenant Act, 1954;
(2) whether he will now state what decision the Government has arrived at regarding the protection of legal aid being given to a party to an appeal to the House of Lords, particularly in a case where such party has had that protection in the court below and been taken to the House of Lords against his will
§ 74. Mr. Janner
asked the Attorney-General whether he is aware that a number of actions have been taken in county courts by tenants who have not agreed that the landlord has satisfied the expenditure tests required under the Housing Repairs and Rents Act, 1954, when claiming increases of rent for repairs; that some of those tenants have been put to expense in pursuing those actions; and whether he will now take steps to give legal aid to litigants in similar cases in future.
I have nothing to add to the replies I gave to the hon. and learned Member for Gloucester (Mr.78W Turner-Samuels) and other hon. Members on 25th October.
§ 70. Brigadier Medlicott
asked the Attorney-General if he will introduce legislation to extend the legal aid scheme so as to give the judges power to order that, where a plaintiff legally aided under the scheme is unsuccessful in an action, the taxed costs of the defendant shall be paid out of the legal aid fund.
No. The problem to which my hon. and gallant Friend refers was fully considered by the Rushcliffe Committee and during the passage of the Legal Aid and Advice Act, 1949, by this House. It will no doubt be fully reconsidered when a general review of the Legal Aid and Advice Act takes place.
The fact that an assisted person is not called upon to make any contribution to his own costs does not mean that he may not find himself ordered to pay towards his successful opponent's costs a sum which is a reasonable one for him to pay. having regard to all the circumstances, including of course his conduct in relation to the dispute.
§ 71. Mr. Peter Freeman
asked the Attorney-General how many applications for legal aid against the medical profession and hospitals have been received since the introduction of the Legal Aid Act.
This information could be obtained only by inspecting each of the 200,000 applications made since the legal aid scheme came into force, and I do not consider that the work involved in doing this would be justified.
§ Brigadier Medlicott
asked the Attorney-General if he will consider amending the legal aid scheme so as to allow a prospective defendant to submit evidence tending to show why a certificate of legal aid should not be granted to the prospective plaintiff.
I appreciate the object which my hon. and gallant Friend has in mind. Under Regulations made this year an area committee may discharge a certificate for legal aid when, as a result of information coming to its knowledge, it considers that an assisted person no longer has reasonable ground for taking, defending or being a party to the proceedings or that it is unreasonable in the particular circumstances for 79W him to continue to receive legal aid. The prospective defendant is not precluded from making representations which may lead to the certificate being discharged under this provision. Consequently I do not think that there is now a need to amend the legal aid scheme in the way suggested.
§ Brigadier Medlicott
asked the Attorney-General the cost to the Exchequer of the legal aid scheme up to the latest ascertainable date.
The cost to the Exchequer of the legal aid scheme up to 31st March, 1954. has been £2,508,000.
§ 72. Mr. Janner
asked the Attorney-General whether he is aware that many tenants of houses and flats are agreeing to pay much larger increases of rent than rent tribunals are allowing for similar houses and flats; that they have no remedy under the Housing Repairs and Rents Act, to compel their landlords to reduce the amounts once so agreed; and whether he will now extend the Legal Aid and Advice Act, 1949, to allow tenants to be adequately advised and represented.
As regards the first two parts of the Question I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my right hon. Friend, the Minister of Housing and Local Government, to the hon. Member on 16th November.
With regard to the last part of the Question, I have nothing to add to the reply I gave the hon. Member on 1st November.