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Legal Aid

Volume 406: debated on Thursday 5 June 2003

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To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department in what circumstances defendants are entitled to legal aid before being charged; and what plans he has to amend the legal aid regulations in the light of Section 23 and Schedule 2 of the Criminal Justice Bill. [102070]

Criminal Defence Service funding, in the form of advice and assistance, is available to anyone who is the subject of an investigation which may lead to criminal proceedings. Advice and assistance from a duty solicitor is free where an individual is arrested and held at a police station. In other circumstances, a defendant will be eligible for help where his weekly disposable income does not exceed £89 and his disposable capital does not exceed £1,000. There is no need to change the regulations in light of the Criminal Justice Bill, as advice and assistance is already available to cover any of the circumstances that may arise under Schedule 2.