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Legal Aid

Volume 464: debated on Wednesday 17 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) what assessment his Department has made of the impact of fixed legal aid fees upon not-for-profit legal aid providers; (158221)

(2) what research his Department has undertaken into the effects of the Government’s legal aid reform plans upon different regions and areas of the country; if he will publish such research; and if he will make a statement;

(3) what assessment he has made of the effects of the Government’s legal aid reform plans upon (a) clients with severe mental health problems, (b) black and minority ethnic clients, (c) disabled clients, (d) clients with housing problems and (e) clients involved in complex children and family cases who use legal aid.

Each new fee scheme published by the Legal Services Commission (LSC) has been accompanied by an impact assessment. These are available on the LSC’s website, and copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Within the next few weeks, the LSC also intends to publish a combined cumulative impact assessment of the legal aid reform programme to date, including those changes due for implementation in January.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what further plans he has to meet representatives of the legal profession and other organisations with an interest or involvement in the delivery of legal aid to discuss the future direction of the Government’s legal aid reform plans. (158269)

My noble Friend the Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, has met a wide range of representatives from the legal profession and others with an interest in legal aid since he became the responsible Minister. He will continue to do so over the coming months to discuss the future direction of legal aid following completion of the introduction of the new fee schemes.