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Legal Aid

Volume 885: debated on Monday 3 February 1975

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asked the Attorney-General what proposals he has for the further extension of the system of legal aid; and if he will make a statement.

My noble friend has commissioned a study into the whole problem of the unmet need for legal services and will consider its findings when these are available. In the meantime, arrangements are being made for some £50,000 to be provided on an emergency basis to those law centres which are in severe financial difficulties. In addition, my right honourable Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department has recently approved under the urban programme financial assistance towards the costs of new law centres in Manchester and the London borough of Haringey.

I am grateful to the right hon. and learned Gentleman for that reply. Will he confirm that this study will include consideration of the extension of legal aid to various forms of tribunal?

Other studies are going on with the object mentioned by the hon. Gentleman. Indeed, the whole area of unmet legal services is under study in one way or another.

Is the Attorney-General aware that in many parts of the country it is impossible for ordinary people, without access to sophisticated legal services, to obtain advice? Will he say when he expects the findings of the report to which he referred?

That is the very reason for the various studies that are being conducted. In particular, my noble Friend very much hopes that the studies in relation to law centres will be able to provide a solution to many of the problems to which the hon. Gentleman referred.