Examination of Witnesses (Questions 60
WEDNESDAY 25 APRIL 2001
60. What underlay the question was, is there
any risk that it will become more difficult to get financial support
for such cases, with the new legal arrangements? I suspect the
answer is yes.
(Lord Bach) It depends very much, I suspect, on what
sort of claim one is bringing and in what sort of field, but I
think the Funding Code that will set out its priorities may mean
that the answer in some cases is yes.
61. Let me ask my final litmus-paper question.
Is the Government satisfied that the proposed reforms of legal
aid are: first, compatible with its obligations under the Human
Rights Act 1998?
(Lord Bach) Yes.
62. And, secondly, consistent with statutory
requirements on equality?
(Lord Bach) Yes. We have looked at both these matters,
they are being considered. We have talked about it before we came
to see the Committee, and the advice I have received is yes.
63. So if I were to ask what assessments have
been made on each count, the answer is that the final assessments
have been made, and the answer in both cases is yes?
(Mr Thompson) Yes, that is true. On the second point,
we are covered by Section 75 of the 1998 Act. We have produced
a scheme dealing with equality, and policies and so on have to
be proofed against the standards of the equality scheme. That
has been done in relation to our policy proposals, and those will
continue to be done as we work through our draft Order in Council,
so it is very much in the forefront of our minds in looking at
64. You are, as it were, re-visiting a minor
scar whose scab we are not too keen on picking at. It took quite
a long time for us to get information from the Government on Section
75, and therefore that is not an issue, on the whole, that we
should care to be reminded about, but thank you very much indeed
for the answer. I know I speak on behalf of the whole Committee
when I say that you have made extremely interesting an afternoon
on a field with which I suspect some of my colleagues, and certainly
myself, are not necessarily familiar. You could not have made
it clearer. We are most grateful to you for the evidence and thank
you very much indeed for the concise way in which you have given
(Lord Bach) Thank you very much indeed, Chairman,
and thank you very much for listening to us.