It is absolutely vital that everyone in the United Kingdom has proper access to justice, and I am assured that the UK Government has put that principle at the heart of its reforms to the justice system in England and Wales, where it is responsible for justice policy. The UK Government also continues to make provision of £1.6 billion a year in legal aid for England and Wales.
Here in Scotland, justice is a devolved matter, and therefore the provision of legal aid is the responsibility of the SNP-led Scottish Government, through the Scottish Legal Aid Board. In 2016-17, the cost of criminal and civil legal aid assistance amounted to around £136 million, down from £161 million in 2010-11.
My Scottish Conservative colleagues in Holyrood recognise that access to justice is one of the most important tenets of a civilised society, and that legal aid provisions in Scotland must be simplified, reviewed, and supported by sufficient levels of funding. They will continue to hold the Scottish Government to account on this important issue so that nobody in Scotland misses out on the assistance they need.