Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has called for an "immediate examination" of the legal aid system after it emerged terror suspect Abu Hamza's legal battles cost taxpayers almost £1 million.
"Resources aren't limitless" and should be reserved for cases where there is genuine need, Mr Grayling said.
Questioning whether the system provided value for money, the Cabinet minister spoke out after taxpayers were left with a total bill of more than £900,000 for cases involving the radical cleric.
Mr Grayling said: "We must never lose sight of the fact that legal aid is paid for by the taxpayer.
"The total costs in some cases seem very high and many - myself included - will question whether they provide value for money.
"I am concerned about public confidence in the legal aid system."