Dr Julian Lewis: I do believe that the legal aid budget in this country is huge in comparison with those in other European countries, but I have had representations from the New Forest citizens advice bureau to say that it has two part-time caseworkers and it is wondering where its most vulnerable clients will go if that service is cut back in parallel with cutbacks in legal aid.
[Karen Buck: I am very grateful to the hon. Gentleman for raising that point; it will be one of the issues that I address. There is an argument in addition to the argument about how much we fund legal aid by. There is consensus that the budget cannot expand indefinitely, but there are still issues about the speed at which and the manner in which legal aid funding is withdrawn and the impact that that could have on providers.
I think that value for money was also at the heart of the hon. Gentleman's remarks. Is it not the case that expenditure on legal aid and advice services does provide value for money, because it ensures that public services and others operate effectively and well, that errors are corrected and that public law is constantly challenged? It also helps people to redress wrongs and ensures that the take-up of benefits and other services is done properly. ...]