Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Legal Aid, Sentencing & Punishment of Offenders Bill

This afternoon I sat through the first amendment in Committee stage of the LASPO Bill, in which Lord Pannick proposed to insert the words:

The Lord Chancellor must secure (within the resources made available and in accordance with this Part) that individuals have access to legal services that effectively meet their needs

Almost everyone who spoke agreed with the principle, though Martin Thomas pointed out that unless the many amendments to Part 1 of the Bill, dealing with legal aid, were agreed, it wouldn't correspond with the wishes of the speakers. It is utterly wrong to remove the power to grant legal aid to poor people such as homeless Travellers, refused immigrants and victims of asbestos poisoning. As was said repeatedly, the right of access to justice should not be confined to those with money to pay the legal fees.

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