FMQs 22nd November 2011 – Legal Aid

Mark Drakeford: First Minister, at the same time as the welfare reform proposals are taking £2 billion out of the pockets of the poorest families in Wales, the same Government, through its legal aid proposals, is cutting the help that those families might have had to challenge those decisions or to deal with the debt into which they will be plunged. Will you join organisations up and down Wales in condemning these proposals and the effect that they are going to have on some of the most disadvantaged communities and most needy families in our land?

The First Minister: I worked in that system for 10 years, and I can say that, if legal aid is not available to people who cannot afford legal representation, justice will be for the rich. It is as simple as that. It is also a false saving, as more and more people will represent themselves in court, which takes a lot longer than having an advocate. Therefore, there will be greater costs for the court system. However, this is typical of the party opposite. All that it wants to do is ensure that the rich have access to justice, and the poor can go to hell.