September 27th, 2011

Smile

Lib Dem conference questions Legal Aid Cuts Pt 2

Yep, yet again the conference condemned Legal Aid cuts, and the leadership dismissed the views of its members.  Lord McNally, Lib Dem promoting the Coalition Legal Aid Bill in the Lords appeared not to realise that cuts in social welfare advice would disproportionately  affect the disabled (thus showing an apparent lack of awareness of the impact assessment produced by his own government).

Other random legal aid facts that should have you Lib Dems out there champing at the bit and foaming at the mouth:

1 50,000 people will lose legal aid in London (of which 10% will come from Hackney). 10,000 Liverpudlians will lose out. These are not hubs of compensation culture, or whatever widget Ken Clarke is spouting on about. These are poor communities hanging on by their fingernails who deserve a level playing field.

2 The definition of domestic violence and the rules on funding will be so defined that one Liverpool firm estimated 5 out of 278 cases it had dealt with would qualify. That'll teach those domestic violence victims!

3 Free duty solicitor service at police stations will be abollished. This was brought in as part of the reforms in the Police and Criminal Evicence Act 1984, itself a response to police abuses (Guildford 4, Birmingham 6 anyone?). Sure, there may be a means tested replacement- but who remembers to bring evidence of benefit entitlement and payslips when they are arrested in their pyjamas?

The list goes on.

My question- why aren't you Lib Dems out there (particularly those who are also lawyers and could help lead an informed debate) making a lot more noise?