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Legal Aid (Prisoners)

Volume 487: debated on Tuesday 10 February 2009

My noble Friend (Lord Bach) the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State has made the following written ministerial statement:

The Legal Services Commission (LSC) has today published a consultation on the provision of prison law services funded by legal aid in England and Wales. Prison law services enable prisoners to receive advice on legal issues arising from their treatment or discipline in prison, and also advice or representation in connection with parole proceedings. Expenditure on prison law work has increased from £1 million in 2001-02 to approximately £19 million in 2007-08, and is expected to increase further in future years. The proposed reforms aim to ensure a sustainable future for prison law services by addressing rising costs and targeting resources on the most appropriate cases. The consultation paper proposes additional controls on the volume of cases that will be funded, strengthened eligibility criteria, new quality measures and a revised payment structure for solicitors. It also describes longer-term plans to develop alternative means of purchasing and delivering these services.

The 12-week consultation closes on 5 May 2009. Copies of “Prison Law Funding: a Consultation Paper” have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The document can be downloaded from the consultation section of the LSC’s website at: www.legalservices.gov.uk.