Baroness King of Bow has criticised the government’s latest amendments to the Legal Aid, Sentencing & Punishment of Offenders bill warning that they don’t go ‘far enough to save the Government from defeat next week’ when it has its final reading in the House of Lords.
Please read below for the full transcript of her comments and let us know what you think.
“These amendments do not go far enough to save the Government from defeat next week.
“Thousands of victims of domestic violence will still lose legal aid and hundreds of child victims of clinical negligence every year will not get legal aid to support their fight for justice and care costs.
“Conservative and Lib Dem peers I have spoken are not in the mood to be fooled by this minor climbdown.
“Victims of domestic violence will only get legal aid for family law cases if there is evidence of abuse in the 12 months before the legal action starts – nothing if there is a history of domestic violence that has come to an end earlier because the couple are separated.
“This minor climbdown was inevitable because of the mood of rebellion among Liberal and Conservative Lords about the unfair and misconceived proposals in the Legal Aid Bill.
“The Government has come some of the way towards maintaining civil legal aid for all children.
“It needs to use common sense and move only a little bit further to protect legal aid for all under 18s if it wants to avoid defeat on this issue next week.
“These amendments cover barely a fraction of the proposals buried in this Bill that go against every tradition of British justice. “If the Government wants this Bill to pass, today’s announcements must
be just the start of a series of concessions.
“Hundreds of children a year who have been injured because of negligence and worse while in hospital will still not qualify for legal aid under this proposal.
“This is only a limited concession by the government and would exclude cases like that of the young girl who was paralysed for life after>negligent hospital treatment when she was 14. Birmingham Children’s Hospital admitted liability in September 2011 but the victim would not have been able to bring her case and win compensation without legal aid.
“Under the proposed changes to “no win, no fee” actions in the Bill it will be harder and more expensive for anyone to sue for compensation without legal aid.”