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Criminal Legal Aid Fees

Volume 649: debated on Tuesday 13 November 2018

8. What assessment he has made of the effect on the earnings of barristers of recent changes to criminal legal aid fees. (907509)

Criminal barristers play a fundamental role in ensuring access to justice, often for the most vulnerable in our society. Having already increased their fees by £9 million in April this year, we launched a consultation on a proposal to increase fees by a further £15 million. That consultation has recently closed, and we are carefully considering the responses.

Our justice system depends on proper legal representation. A constituent of mine, a dedicated and experienced barrister, works 15 hours a day, six to seven days a week. Two years ago, he earned £8,000; last year, he struck lucky and earned £26,000. Will the Minister commit to honouring the letter and spirit of the advocates’ graduated fees scheme, and make sure it has an early review?

The Lord Chancellor and I take very seriously the importance of having a system of advocates that represents people, and we value the independent Bar as well as the employed Bar. I met the leaders of the Bar Council last week, as well as the leaders—the chair and the vice-chair—of the Criminal Bar Association to hear their concerns, and we are listening very closely to what they have to say.

I call Chris Evans, for Question 9—not here. Where is the feller? I hope he is not indisposed.