The Edinburgh and Hamilton Bar Associations voted unanimously on 7 June 2006 to join the action of their Glasgow colleagues (see No 564) in refusing from 1 August to take on the court representation of those accused of sex offences, unless legal aid rates were increased by 50%.  Current legal aid rates are £66.40 per court hour and £44.20 per preparation and waiting hour, and there has been no general adjustment since 1992, although there was a 15% increase for advocacy in solemn cases in 2004 along with an above-inflation increase for other work in such cases.  An interim increase of 8% for court work and 5% for other work has been offered while a new block payment” system (which lawyers say was agreed two years ago) is introduced.  The First Minister fuelled the flames in the Scottish Parliament on 8 June