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Lord Carlisle of Bucklow: This is rather like having an old age person's pass. If you get an OAP's pass you pay less fees irrespective of your financial position. Surely we want the Government to accept that fees should be set at an affordable level for those who do not have the advantage of total avoidance through having an OAP's pass.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: But it is not targeted by virtue of one criteria. The whole point, I emphasise, is that those who can pay should pay, and should pay in full. Those who cannot pay, or who are vulnerable, or who fall into a special category of vulnerability by virtue of the nature of the casefor example, those involved in family and adoption casesshould pay at a lower, subsidised rate. So those who cannot pay will be assisted; those who can pay will be made to do so.
Lord Hunt of Wirral: I believe that Members of the Committee do not accept what the Minister has just said. We shall not inquire behind the veiled curtain as to what happened as regards Her Majesty's Treasury. Almost certainly, there would have been a huge debate between the Lord Chancellor's Department and the Treasury. I know that the Minister cannot divulge to us the way in which she undoubtedly fought our case for us behind the scenes and lost.
When I gave way to the Minister rather than her giving way to me, I was merely commending the noble and learned Lord, Lord Donaldson, on his plea in mitigation. But a plea in mitigation is based on the premise that the Minister is guilty. I give the noble Baroness the opportunity of putting everything right. She has already said that the Lord Chancellor has a duty to facilitate access to justice. That is all that the amendment seeks to do. I hoped that she might accept it. I should like to test the opinion of the Committee.
Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.
House adjourned at sixteen minutes past ten o'clock.
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