HL Deb 16 December 1999 vol 608 cc46-7WA
Lord Lester of Herne Hill

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many contracts have been concluded, and with which firms or agencies, to undertake public law work under the new legal aid contracts; and how many "starts" are allowed and for what period of time in each contract. [HL296]

The Lord Chancellor

The Legal Aid Board has only recently offered contracts in public law work to solicitors and other agencies and the exact number of contracted providers will not be known until the end of December 1999. Five organisations have been offered legal aid contracts for advice and assistance in public law, four of which are located in the London legal aid area and the other in the Birmingham legal aid area. Altogether, 56 new case "starts" have been allocated for the first contract period, 1 January 2000 to 31 March 2001, to the five specific contracts in public law. Organisations that do not have contracts specifically for public law will be able to give initial advice on public law cases within their contract "tolerance". The contracts will also cover representation in public law cases relating to immigration. There is no limit on case starts for representation and firms with a public law or immigration contract will be able to handle representation in these cases. The names and addresses of those solicitors firms and other agencies awarded contracts will be placed in the Library in January 2000 and will also be set out in the Community Legal Service Directory. The directory is expected to be published in April 2000.