Welsh Government spends £13m on legal fees over five years
1:01pm Tuesday 3rd September 2013 in News
THE Welsh Government has spent £13 million on external legal services in the past five years, according to figures from the Welsh Tories.
The Assembly’s opposition group said the figures were startling when the Welsh Government has its own 120-strong legal department.
However the Welsh Government said it only pays for legal services when it needs specific expertise.
Nick Ramsay, AM for Monmouth, said: “These are startling figures, which will leave many people wondering what the Welsh Government’s own legal advisors do and why they are lacking in expertise.
“It is understandable that, on occasion, the Welsh Government may need to outsource legal advice, but Welsh Labour Ministers have a duty to keep costs under control.
“£13million is a massive sum of money to spend on external legal services when the Welsh Government has its own department with over 120 lawyers, solicitors and administrators, many of whom will be extremely well paid to advise ministers.”
The figures, revealed by finance minister Jane Hutt in an answer to a question from Tory AM Russell George, show that between 2008/09 and 2012/13 the Welsh Government has spent between £2.1 million and £2.9 million a year on legal costs.
However the Welsh Government, which spends £314 million on central services and administration, also has its own legal services department, which employs more than 120 members of staff including lawyers, trainee lawyers, paralegal and administrative support.
Its understood that the money on external advice is predominantly made to legal firms, with a smaller part spent on barristers.
A Welsh Government spokesman said: "We only procure legal services externally when specific expertise or capacity is required.
“In those circumstances, the Welsh Government can call on the services of firms on an external legal services contract and/or counsel, both of which arrangements have been subject to open competition.
“This is an appropriate use of resources to ensure the Welsh Government acts lawfully and efficiently."
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