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Legal Aid

Volume 404: debated on Tuesday 6 May 2003

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To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what estimates the Lord Chancellor's Department has made of departmental expenditure on legal aid in asylum and immigration cases for (a) 2000–01, (b) 2001–02 and (c) 2002–03; and what the originally budgeted expenditure was for those years. [110161]

Expenditure on legal help in asylum matters was £76.4 million in 2000–01; £124 million in 2001–02; and is estimated to be £168 million in 2002–03. This excludes expenditure on judicial reviews.

names, titles and grades of the officials who sit on the EU committee on the development and consolidation of democracy and the rule of law and on the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms, (b) the number of times, and the dates, on which it has met since January 2002, (c) the agenda items it has considered since January 2002, (d) the decisions it has made since January 2002 and (e) the means used to communicate the decisions to the House. [110309]

I have been asked to reply. The EU Committee on Human Rights and Democracy meets four times a year and is composed of representatives of member states. Delegates from the 10 EU accession states have been invited to attend as observers from the next meeting in June. Officials from the Department for International Development and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office represent the UK Government on the Committee. The main task of the Committee is to allocate EU budget resources to human rights and democracy projects in third countries and subsequently to evaluate the activities funded. In 2002, a total of 96,493,818 euros (£62,254,076) was allocated for projects worldwide. Funding overed three main areas, as follows:There has not historically been a separate budget for immigration and asylum matters. The Lord Chancellor directs what may be spent on legal help as a whole. However, it was anticipated prior to the beginning of each financial year that £65.7 million would be spent in 2000–01; £84.3 million in 2001–02; and £160 million in 2002–03.Actual expenditure exceeded anticipated expenditure, particularly in 2001–02 because of changes introduced to speed up the process of dealing with applications.

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what estimates the Lord Chancellor's Department has made for departmental expenditure on all legal aid in the magistrates courts for (a) 2000–01, (b) 2001–02 and (c) 2002–03; and what the originally budgeted expenditure was for those years. [110162]

There is no separate budget for legal aid in the magistrates courts as it forms part of the overall legal aid budget. However in 2000–01, legal aid in the magistrates courts was expected to be £259 million. Actual expenditure was £232.9 million.

Since 2001–02, legal aid in the magistrates courts has become part of the General Criminal Contract which also includes advice and assistance and the duty solicitor schemes. Under the Contract it is not possible to separately identify expenditure in the magistrates courts.

In 2001–02 Expenditure under the General Criminal Contract was expected to be £461 million. Actual expenditure was £508.3 million. In 2002–03 it was expected to be £460.2 million. Actual expenditure is provisionally estimated to be £526.6 million* .

* This figure may be subject to adjustments.

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what the budgeted departmental expenditure is on (a) legal aid in asylum and immigration cases for 2003–04 and (b) all legal aid in the magistrates courts for 2003–04. [110163]

Budgeted expenditure for asylum and immigration cases for 2003–04 is yet to be agreed by Ministers. All expenditure for asylum and immigration cases (including legal aid), will now for the first time fall under a single asylum fund, to be agreed between my Department, the Home Office and the Treasury.There is no separate budget for legal aid in the magistrates courts as it forms part of the overall legal aid budget. However, magistrates courts legal aid expenditure falls within that for the General Criminal Contract, which covers all levels of service up to and including representation in the magistrates courts. Currently we expect to spend around £525 million in 2003–04.