The Liberal Democrats are preparing for a fight over the newest iteration of the legal aid bill returning to the Commons tomorrow, as activists, celebrities, and charities have all come together to urge Lib Dem MPs to oppose the bill due to proposed funding cuts that could see too many left with no ability to bring accident claims.
The House of Lords savaged the bill in the last review, forcing 11 amendments into the bill. Despite the attempts to make personal injury claims available to those who could not afford to do so otherwise, fears that the government will force the bill through and simply ignore the Lords is running high.
Government officials are insistent that the changes need to be made, as legal aid bills for the country have spiraled out of control in both England and Wales. However, a Law Society-organised campaign called Sound Off For Justice has stated that if the amendments made by the Lords are rejected, the bill will institute serious limitations to the legal aid to be made available for work accident claims involving asbestos-related illness or for domestic violence claimants, while the Children’s Society says that advice or representation will be denied to 6,000 children in cases concerning immigration, welfare, and education.
The Children’s Society’s policy adviser, Ilona Pinter, stated that the Government has a responsibility to recognise that there are fundamental differences between adults and children, and that the UK legal system is simply too complex for children to navigate without the help of legal aid. Cutting funding will deny these children their access to justice, Ms Pinter added, pointing out that doing so will undermine their human rights in a fundamental way.