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Legal Aid

Volume 507: debated on Tuesday 9 March 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice for what reason his Department's review into the Graduated Fees Scheme has not been conducted on the originally proposed timetable. (320745)

In 2005 the Government gave a commitment to review specific aspects of the Advocate's Graduated Fee Scheme (AGFS), including payments for 'cracked' trials and guilty pleas. However, this commitment was overtaken by Lord Carter's Review of Legal Aid Procurement, published in 2006. This led to a wide- ranging revision of the existing AGFS framework, implemented in April 2007. In light of these recent changes, the Government do not currently intend to conduct any further review of the structure of the AGFS, although they have recently consulted on changes to the rates payable under the AGFS.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many people were eligible for legal aid as a result of their assets being frozen in each of the last five years. (320746)

When assessing financial eligibility, the Legal Services Commission (LSC) does not take into account assets frozen under a restraint order. Where someone is subject to restraint procedures a living allowance is usually made available, and this is taken into account in assessing their financial eligibility. The LSC's management information systems do not hold information on the numbers of people subject to restraint proceedings, or on the living allowances each individual has been allowed by the court, so figures for the number of people who are in principle eligible for legal aid as a result of restraint proceedings are not available. Some information may be held on individuals who have actually applied for legal aid, but this is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.