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Lord Archer of Sandwell: I do not take a dogmatic position in this debate. I rise only to underline what was said a moment ago by my noble friend Lord Clinton-Davis: that the risk we are talking about is not principally to the Bar but to the clients who may, in certain circumstances, find difficulty in securing representation and, certainly in the solicitors' profession, in securing advice.
I venture simply to draw one lesson from history. The noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, said that no doctor would contemplate a conditional fee agreement. I seem to remember reading somewhere that it was the habit in parts of the Ottoman Empire to pay your doctor so long as you remained in good health. However, if you fell ill, you ceased to pay him until you recovered. There is some evidence that those who were invalids found it very difficult to find doctors.
Lord Goodhart: I am grateful for the support that my amendment has received from the noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner, and for the considerable degree of support that it received from the noble and learned Lord, Lord Archer, and the noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis. The reaction of the Government is hardly unexpected; but, nonetheless, it is disappointing. I shall not go into it further, except to make two very brief comments in response to what the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer, said.
First, as far as concerns cherry-picking, I do not see that as being a danger. It is obvious that a conditional legal aid fund would be able to spot the bad cases that were being thrown at it and that it would look with a great deal of suspicion at any case that comes to it from a firm that is known to have a wide CFA practice. Indeed, what is far more likely to happen is that firms which are not prepared to undertake the risk of CFAs will go for CLAF. As I said earlier, this means that there will be a considerable widening of choice to potential clients. As the noble and learned Lord, Lord Archer, rightly said, it is the client's interest that we are considering in this case.
Secondly, as regards funding, I do not believe that this proposal need divert funds from anywhere. The way that I would in fact envisage this assistance being funded would be through money raised from the private sector but guaranteed by the Government. If, as I strongly believe, CLAF turns out to be viable, one would not be diverting funds from anywhere else. On this occasion I shall withdraw the amendment, but we may wish to discuss this matter further. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Lord Windlesham: I wish to speak to it, but not necessarily now. If the Committee wishes to adjourn at approximately 10 o'clock I think my remarks would receive a better welcome on another day rather than making a substantial speech now. As I said, we have
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