HC Deb 19 February 1992 vol 204 cc156-7W
Mr. Michael Spicer

To ask the Attorney-General what information he has on the level of fees for legal aid work by solicitors, and the methods of their computation, in other EC countries.

The Attorney-General

Information on all legal aid payments to solicitors is held by the legal aid board or, in the case of Crown court work, by the Lord Chancellor's Department. Information on amounts paid can be provided by various case types. For example, the total of solicitors' costs for magistrates' court work in 1989–90 was £131 million, £300 per case, and in 1990–91 it was £152 million, £346 per case. If the hon. Member is interested in the level of a particular category of fee, the Lord Chancellor will arrange for him to be provided with the relevant information, if it is available. No detailed information is held on the computation of lawyers' fees for publicly funded work in other EC countries. I understand that expenditure on legal aid in France for last year was around 10 per cent. of expenditure in England and Wales; and that in Belgium is less than 1 per cent. Such comparisons are, however, difficult because the legal systems in these countries are different from our own.

Mr. Nellist

To ask the Attorney-General how much has been spent on legal aid in each of the last five years; what was the average for civil and criminal legal aid bills in each year; and how many cases in each year were legally aided.

The Attorney-General

In each of the last five financial years, the amount spent on legal aid in England and Wales was:

£ million
Gross Net
1986–87 458 363
1987–88 537 434
1988–89 610 478
1989–90 715 569
1990–91 852 684

Information on average legal aid bills, covering the last five years, is set out in the table.

1986–87 £ 1987–88 £ 1988–89 £ 1989–90 £ 1990–91£
Average bills (Gross)
Civil matrimonial 896 971 1,123 1,212 1,358
Civil non-matrimonial 1,075 1,200 1,399 1,594 1,784
Criminal1 245 281 309 349 398
Criminal2 360 408 453 525 599
1 In magistrates court.
2 In higher courts.

The number of acts of assistance paid for under the various legal aid schemes, including legal advice and assistance and the duty solicitor schemes, were as follows:

1986–87 (000) 1987–88 (000) 1988–89 (000) 1989–90 (000) 1990–91 (000)
Acts of assistance 1,909 2,173 2,139 2,298 2,384