Snippets of the Lords Depate on Legal Aid

The House of Lords had a debate (19.05.11) on the Government's plan to cut the legal aid budget by £350 million, thereby depriving hundreds of thousands from legal representation.

Lord Beecham began the debate by saying, 'The legal aid system was one of the great pillars of the post war welfare state.' He called the cuts 'draconian' and the Government's suggestion that mediation and voluntary organisations would fill the gap was wrong.

He went on to comment that the £1.2 billion budget has been frozen since 2003/4, despite a significant increase in the number of people helped. The taxpayer is getting a lot more for a lot less, but you can only squeeze so far.

Lord Thomas of Gresford pointed out that...

The House of Lords had a debate (19.05.11) on the Government's plan to cut the legal aid budget by £350 million, thereby depriving hundreds of thousands from legal representation.

Lord Beecham began the debate by saying, 'The legal aid system was one of the great pillars of the post war welfare state.' He called the cuts 'draconian' and the Government's suggestion that mediation and voluntary organisations would fill the gap was wrong.

He went on to comment that the £1.2 billion budget has been frozen since 2003/4, despite a significant increase in the number of people helped. The taxpayer is getting a lot more for a lot less, but you can only squeeze so far.

Lord Thomas of Gresford pointed out that there is no point trying to save money in the area of legal aid if it costs the state more money elsewhere.

Lord Bach, the former Labour justice minister, said "At a time of economic hardship , it's madness to cut legal aid. We know that early legal advice changes lives. Lack of advice can lead to problems escalating out of control, leading to hopeless debt, relationship breakdown and sometimes a descent into crime. The law centre movement is likely to be crushed."

Lord McNally, the justice minister and leader of Liberal Democrats in the Lords, blamed the blamed the cuts on the previous Labour administration of the budget. He said, 'I did not come into politics to hurt the poor'.

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