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Legal Aid

Volume 406: debated on Thursday 5 June 2003

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My right honourable and noble Friend, the Lord Chancellor, has today announced a package of measures, which will help achieve better value for money in the legal aid system while ensuring that help continues to go to those who need it most.A consultation paper has been published today on the Criminal Defence Service (CDS). "Delivering Value for Money in the Criminal Defence Service" sets out a range of proposals to ensure that CDS expenditure is targeted on those areas where legal aid can best advance and protect a client's interests. Copies of the consultation paper have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.A further consultation paper on asylum legal aid "Proposed Changes to Publicly Funded Immigration and Asylum Work" has also been published today. This sets out proposals to ensure that we obtain more effective controls of costs and quality in legal advice given to asylum seekers. Copies of this consultation paper have also been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.He announced that we are setting up a project to consider the likely supply of and demand for lawyers over the coming years and to establish what remuneration rates may be necessary. This will provide an evidential basis for decisions to ensure a sufficient supply of lawyers of the right quality prepared to undertake legal aid work in the coming years.Finally he announced that we are fully implementing the scheme for contracting very high cost criminal cases. These are cases which last (or are estimated to last) over 25 days at trial, or cost more than £150,000. This scheme will ensure better value for money, help the aims of better and earlier case preparation and give the professions greater certainty about payment for work.