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Poor-Roll Solicitors

Volume 649: debated on Wednesday 15 November 1961

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16.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is aware of the decision of poor-roll solicitors in Glasgow and Dunbartonshire to work to rule from 31st December, 1961; and what action he proposes to take to implement the recommendation of the Guthrie Report, published in May, 1960, that legal aid should be extended to cover criminal proceedings.

I understand that in Glasgow and Dunbartonshire applicants for the benefit of the poor's roll are now required to produce affidavits setting forth their circumstances. As regards the second part of the Question, my right hon. Friend is considering the Report of the Guthrie Committee, but he is not yet ready to make a statement about the Committee's recommendations.

Has not the Minister any sense of urgency about this matter? Is he not aware that the whole scheme is likely to break down in Glasgow and Dunbartonshire? Why do we have to get into a state of crisis before the Secretary of State ever does anything? Why cannot he do something in this matter now? He has had the Guthrie Report for about 18 months.

The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that the Guthrie Report made it clear that the trouble in Scotland could not be dealt with simply by bringing into force the provisions of the Legal Aid (Scotland) Act, 1949. The changes which the Committee recommended will need legislation, and that is still under consideration.