§ Mr. Byers
To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will identify individuals who have received more than £1 million from the legal aid fund towards their legal costs in the past 10 years; what has been the total amount paid in each case; and what was the nature of the legal proceedings.
Mr. John M. Taylor
I regret that it has not been possible to provide an answer before prorogation. I shall write to the hon. Member and place a copy of the letter in the Library.
§ Mrs. Dunwoody
To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department (1) if he will list by region the number of fraudulent legal aid claims by solicitors for the period 1992–93 and 1993–94;
(2) what percentage of total moneys paid out by the legal aid fund in each region relate to fraudulent claims by solicitors in the last three years;
(3) how many cases of possible fraudulent claims for legal aid are being investigated by him in each region.
§ Mr. John Marshall
To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department in how many civil cases in 1993–94 both parties were in receipt of legal aid.
§ Mr. Michael Brown
To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what plans the Government have to improve control of the green form scheme.
Mr. John M. Taylor
The green form scheme is an important means of access to legal advice for people on low incomes. In 1993–94, over 1,600,000 people received help from the green form scheme. Over recent months however the Government and the Legal Aid board have become increasingly concerned about the opportunities for abuse which exist in the scheme.
As a result, the Legal Aid board has conducted an internal review of its systems for detecting fraud and abuse of the green form scheme, and has put in place a number of administrative changes designed to ensure that suspect claims under the green form scheme are speedily detected and acted upon.
In addition, the Legal Aid board has, with the Government's support, proposed a number of other changes to the green form scheme:
- i) that there should be a new, more detailed, green form claims form to be used by solicitors who are not franchised by the Legal Aid board;
- ii) that a solicitor should be required to seek prior authority from the Legal Aid board before giving advice under more than one green form to the same client within any period of 12 months;
- iii) that the Legal Aid board's powers for dealing with cases where fraud or breaches of the legal aid regulations are suspected should be clarified in regulations.
The Legal Aid board is at present consulting the Law Society on the details of these changes. Subject to the outcome of that consultation, the necessary regulations to make these changes will be laid before Parliament as soon as possible.