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Legal Aid

Volume 940: debated on Wednesday 30 November 1977

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asked the Attorney-General what were the average incomes of successful applicants for civil litigation legal aid in England and Wales for the years 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976 and the current year to date; what percentages of the total number of such applicants these figures represent; and if he is satisfied that hardship and injustice is not being caused by the unavailability of legal aid for many persons of modest means, in particular for industrial tribunal representation.

Details of the average incomes of successful applicants for civil legal aid are not available. To have been eligible for legal aid in the years in question an applicant's disposable income—that is, his net income after allowances for dependants and deductions for necessary expenditure—had to be less than the following:

With effect fromUpper disposable income limit £
16th November 1970950·00
1st January 19741,175·00
1st September 19741,380·00
1st June 19751,580·00
1st January 19761,790·00
15th November 19762,085·00
28th November 19772,400·00
The percentage of applicants found to be financially eligible for legal aid was as follows:

Financial YearPercentage
1973–495
1974–596
1975–696
1976–797
My noble Friend is aware that the present financial limits for legal aid are restrictive and that many people of modest means are not eligible. He regrets that restrictions on public expenditure prevent him at present from either increasing the limits further than the recent increase which took effect from 28th November, or extending legal aid to industrial tribunals.