§ Mr. Malcolm Bruce
To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what is his estimate of the cost of extending legal aid to libel claims; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Jonathan Evans
No estimate of the cost of extending the scope of legal aid to libel claims has been made; nor is it the Government's intention at the present time to extend the scope of legal aid to libel cases. However, following consultation, the Lord Chancellor introduced on 8 February 1996 the Defamation Bill which is designed to bring the law of defamation up to date and to improve and simplify the procedures for litigants.