§ Mr. Douglas-Mann
asked the Attorney-General what is the annual cost of administration of means-testing for (a) criminal legal aid, and (b) legal aid for civil cases; what proportion of those who apply for criminal legal aid is refused on financial grounds; what proportion is required to pay a contribution; and what is the annual total sum received in respect of such contributions.
§ Mr. John
I have been asked to reply.
The cost of administration of means testing for civil legal aid in 1976–77 was £2,427,000. The grant of legal aid in criminal proceedings is dependent not on a means test but on the court's conclusion as to the defendant's ability to meet the costs of his defence. The expenditure involved in reaching such conclusions, and of making and enforcing contribution orders at the conclusion of proceedings, 128W forms part of the general running costs of the courts and is not separately identifiable.
In 1976, 8.5 per cent. of all applications for legal aid in criminal proceedings were refused, but the proportion refused on financial grounds is not available. 9.2 per cent. of legally aided defendants were ordered to pay contributions. In the financial year 1976–77, contributions of £998,235 were received.