asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is his estimate of the additional cost to the legal aid fund if the means test were abolished for all criminal cases in which legal aid would be likely to be granted under present criteria, other than financial circumstances: (a) in the higher courts only, and (b) in all courts.
It is not possible to make a reliable estimate. The statistics of refusals of applications for legal aid in criminal proceedings do not distinguish between the reasons for refusal. An applicant's statement of means is taken into account in the making of contribution orders. If the liability to pay a contribution towards legal aid were abolished, an unquantifiable, but probably very considerable, increase in the number of applications could be expected.