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Legal Aid Reform

Volume 512: debated on Wednesday 23 June 2010

I confirm that we are considering policy on the subject of legal aid in England and Wales as announced in the Government’s document “The Coalition: our programme for government” published last month. The Government are considering how to make the system more efficient having regard to the current financial climate, while ensuring that it continues to play a vital part in ensuring that people can get access to justice.

This Government’s immediate priority is to reduce the financial deficit and encourage economic recovery. We have made it clear that the main burden of the deficit reduction will be borne by reduced public spending, achieved by financial discipline and the most efficient and effective delivery of public services. I am seeking to develop an approach to legal aid spending which balances these necessary financial constraints with the interests of justice and the wider public interest. We will seek to develop an approach which is compatible with fair and necessary access to justice for those who need it most, the protection of the most vulnerable in our society, the efficient performance of the justice system, and our international legal obligations.

We intend to seek views on our proposed new approach in the autumn.