§ Mr. Djanogly
To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs what money is owed to the Legal Services Commission; and what the reasons are for the Commission not having collected this debt. 
§ Mr. Lammy
The Legal Services Commission (LSC) had debts due to it at the end of the financial year 2003–04 of £262 million. Much of this debt (around 72 per cent.) is secured by the registration of a statutory charge against property and is not, generally, immediately collectable. The LSC allows the funded client to postpone the operation of the charge, subject to certain conditions, and the debt is not repayable until the property is sold or upon the death of the client.
Cases relating to the statutory charge have since 1988 attached interest. The rate of interest is linked to the Bank of England base rate and currently stands at 5 per cent. simple interest. £50 million of the gross debt due to the Commission relates to interest.
Other debts due to the LSC are normally immediately repayable and are pursued by a dedicated debt recovery team. In 2003—04, the LSC successfully recovered £28 million worth of debt. Some of these debts may be owed by funded clients (e.g. unpaid contributions towards funding legal aid) and are difficult to recover given the limited financial circumstances of the clients.