HC Deb 17 February 1955 vol 537 c77W
Mr. Collins

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is aware that many innocent persons charged with criminal offences are put to considerable expense in proving their innocence; and if he will consider ways, either by extension of the Legal Aid Act. 1949. or other means, whereby they can be assisted.

Major Lloyd-George

The courts in England and Wales already have power, when satisfied that such a course is desirable in the interests of justice, to grant legal aid to an accused person who is committed for trial. Legal aid may also be granted in certain circumstances in magistrates' courts; section 18 (2) of the Legal Aid and Advice Act, 1949, widens the power to give legal aid in magistrates' courts, but I am not in a position to say when it will be possible to bring this subsection into effect. Under the Costs in Criminal Cases Act, 1952, the courts also have power, in the case of an indictable offence, to order the reasonable costs of the defence to be paid out of local funds when the accused has been discharged by the magistrates' court or acquitted.

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