§ Mr. McNamara
To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many people received legal aid this year; and how many of these would have been eligible and how many would pay increased contributions, if the changes in legal aid announced for England and Wales were to be introduced to Northern Ireland.
Mr. John M. Taylor
In the year ended 31 March 1992, the legal aid department of the Law Society of Northern Ireland, issued 14,585 civil legal aid certificates. In addition 56,508 bills for legal advice and assistance and 11,320 bills for legal assistance by way of representation were paid.
In the above cases contributions were required in 1,601–11 per cent.—of civil legal aid cases, in 1,607–3 per cent.—of legal advice and assistance cases and in 1,242–11 per cent.—of assistance by way of representation cases. In all other cases no contribution was required.
Information regarding how many of those involved would be eligible and how many would pay increased contributions, if the changes in legal aid announced for England and Wales were to be introduced in Northern Ireland, is not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
The system of granting criminal legal aid in Northern Ireland is different from that in operation in England and Wales and a direct comparison of the effect of proposed changes in England and Wales is not possible.