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Legal Aid

Volume 494: debated on Monday 22 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how much legal aid has been granted to parents seeking access rights to children in each of the last five years. (279196)

The Legal Services Commission is unable to identify the amount of legal aid granted solely to parents for contact applications from its case management system, as these applications can also be made by wider family members, such as grandparents or older siblings. These proceedings can also include other issues as well as contact, such as residence, parental responsibility and specific issue orders, and these costs will be included in the certificate costs.

In the past five financial years the following amounts have been paid in closed certificates that involve contact issues.

Financial year

£ million

2004-05

78

2005-06

86

2006-07

92

2007-08

103

2008-09

124

A small proportion of the increase in 2008-09 is due to the Legal Services Commission undertaking an exercise to close dormant certificates.

The figures do not include the costs of initial legal advice on contact provided under the controlled Family Help Scheme, as this information is not recorded.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what proportion of legal aid spending was incurred for lawyers' attendance at (a) police stations, (b) magistrates courts and (c) Crown courts in each of the last five years. (280335)

The question cannot be answered in the format requested since amounts spent on actual attendance cannot be separately identified. Information is available for 2004-05 to 2007-08 only.

The following table gives the proportions of total legal aid expenditure for police stations, magistrates courts and the Crown court for attendance related work and includes work done in preparation for attendance. Work which is clearly not related to attendance such as police station telephone advice has been excluded. Expenditure not related to police stations, magistrates courts and the Crown court, such as representation for prisoners at prison disciplinary hearings has also been excluded.

Overall legal aid expenditure is made up of criminal and civil legal aid. The Legal Services Commission's annual reports show the spend each year between the two schemes.

Proportions of overall legal aid expenditure

Percentage

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

Police stations

8.1

8.7

9.7

8.2

Magistrates courts

14.4

14.7

15.4

12.1

Crown court

33.5

34.2

32.5

34.2