To ask the Attorney-General if he will make a statement about the Government's policy on the funding of law centres.
Law centres are funded principally by local authorities, supplemented by payments received from the Legal Aid Board for specific work carried out under the legal aid scheme. In addition, seven law centres continue to be funded by grants from the Legal Aid Board.
Will the Solicitor-General reaffirm the general support that he and his colleagues gave to law centres during consideration of the Courts and Legal Services Bill? Will he confirm that it is appropriate for law centres to do work other than legally aided work, such as prosecutions under the Health Services and Public Health Act 1968 and tribunal cases? Will he do something, even at this late stage, to save the three law centres that are threatened with closure by Wandsworth borough council?
I can reaffirm our general support for the good work done by many law centres throughout the country. As the hon. Gentleman realises, the funding of a law centre in a particular area is a matter for the local authority and it has been a cause of controversy among local authorities backed by all political parties.