Select Committee on Constitutional Affairs Fourth Report

1  Introduction

1. The Constitutional Affairs Committee has taken evidence on the decision by the Legal Services Commission (LSC) to end the provision of Specialist Support Services under the Community Legal Service (legal aid scheme).

2. We focused on the services provided by Specialist Support Services, the way in which the decision to end the scheme was reached and alternative approaches suggested by the LSC.

3. We took oral evidence from Mr Brian Harvey, Acting Chief Executive of the Legal Services Commission and from Mr Crispin Passmore, Director of the Community Legal Service, on 14 February 2006. We also received a number of written submissions from concerned stakeholders including: Shelter; the Legal Aid Practitioner Group (LAPG); the Law Society; Citizens Advice; Child Poverty Action; the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants; and several other organisations which deliver Specialist Support Services.

4. We were concerned that the oral evidence from the Legal Services Commission revealed major flaws in its approach to policymaking. We draw the particular attention of the House to the oral evidence accompanying this Report.

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Prepared 14 March 2006