Thursday, January 04, 2007

Debate in Parliament on legal aid - 11/1/07

I have blogged numerous times about the changes to legal aid in relation to the Carter proposals. The MP Karen Buck was able to secure an adjournment debate in December and this has led to a debate in Parliament by the DCA/Vera Baird (Department of Constitutional Affairs) on the 11th January 2007.

These proposals will have a severe impact on all areas of legal advice and consequences will be dire for people who need free, legal advice.

Liz Davies (Chair of the Haldane Society) has written on the Carter Proposals in the latest Socialist Lawyer and also in last month's Morning Star (sub needed).

She argues: "Most legal aid lawyers are already thin, under-nourished cats. If the Carter proposals are adopted, very few legal aid solicitors will be able to carry on making a living. And, in the world of criminal defence, housing, parents facing the removal of their children, there isn’t exactly a rich private client group to turn to, to subsidise the loss-making publicly funded cases".

Steve Johnson, Chief Executive of Advice UK said -
'The Government's proposals are unworkable. They will leave many people without access to good legal advice when they need it. They were driven by a desire solely to save money and will undermine the good quality advice services that our members aim to provide and so access to justice. We urge them to re-think the proposals and start listening to advice providers.'

The Law Centres Federation have agreed to boycott the new proposed Legal Aid contract.

There is this Dickensian feel to New Labour that the poor and the powerless should meekly accept whatever their betters decide to dish out to them; whether it is an eviction notice, a cut in benefit, a bullet through the head while sitting on the tube or deliverance to the torture chambers of the third world.