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Saturday, October 29, 2011

More Liberal Democrat rebels

Cuts in legal aid have proved to be particularly controversial in recent months so the news that a small group of Liberal Democrat MPs are working together to reverse some of the most damaging aspects of these changes is very welcome.

Labour's position on this has of course been very interesting. They now appear to be opposed to cutting legal aid even though they fought the last General Election pledged to do the opposite. As last year's Law Society Gazette points out Labour went into the last election promising to implement more cuts in the legal aid budget, planning to increase the use of ‘virtual courts’ in criminal cases and fully committed to pressing ahead with ID cards and the ‘full use’ of CCTV and DNA technology to tackle crime.

According to the Guardian, Liberal Democrat MPs, Simon Hughes, Tom Brake and Mike Crockart will be following up the party's success in amending the Health Bill by seeking changes to Government plans on this issue.

They have tabled amendments that are calculated to preserve legal aid for the most vulnerable potential claimants. They include:

• Ensuring that legal aid is preserved for claimants who need to take a case for clinical negligence

• Making legal aid available earlier to those at risk of losing their house to repossession

• Keeping "no win, no fee" arrangements and "after the event insurance" for those who wish to take privacy or defamation cases. The family of Milly Dowler were able to bring their case against News International through such means

• Removing proposals that could subject those arrested to being means tested before they are entitled to legal advice

• Preserving legal aid for those who need to appeal to tribunals against decisions that affect their entitlements to welfare benefits

• Preserving legal aid for immigration cases involving disputed reunions with family members who are abroad.

It is an important fight and one that the Government needs to make concessions on.
Yes, a very important fight indeed. I'd like to help in anyway, and can be contacted by e-mail
if anyone else is planning anything.
tuition fees was about a policy, this is about a principle.
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