Last chance to save Legal Aid
The Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association who’ve been heavily involved with lobbying on the Legal Aid Bill are flagging up that there’s a potential opportunity to put some final pressure on Government with a view to getting a better deal on legal aid.
Immigration is due to be debated on Monday 12 March – Labour have tabled an amendment that would bring immigration work into scope, so there’s likely to be a short discussion about that, followed by a debate about exceptional funding given that amendments including an immigration-specific amendment to permit exceptional funding where the case is complex and the individual would be without representation) have been tabled.
What you can do
ILPA have suggested the following (by no later than Monday morning (12 March)
1. Put pressure on Lord Bach to proceed with his amendment (amendment 74) on legal aid for immigration work. This would extend legal aid for immigration matters. You can email Lord Bach to seek to persuade him to do so (Labour did not move all the amendments they tabled last evening) at: email@example.com
2. Contact other peers in the House of Lords that you know. You can get their details from here and e mail them directly. ILPA notes that it’s important that you highlight that immigration is set to be hit disproportionately and unjustly hard in that (i) it is regulated so general advice cannot lawfully step in to replace legal aid (e.g. very few not-for-profits in the OISC scheme are permitted to do anything much beyond basic form-filling); and (ii) the current exceptional funding provision seeks to exclude immigration.
For those contemplating writing, ILPA have made some useful contact suggestions on the basis of past contributions to parliamentary debates. They’ve identified the following (with an indication of areas of interest)
- Baroness Benjamin at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Baroness Howe at email@example.com
- Baroness Lister at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Lord Listowel at email@example.com
- Baroness Howarth at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Baroness Massey at email@example.com
- Lord Kennedy at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Baroness Butler-Sloss at email@example.com
- Baroness Hamwee at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Lord Newton at email@example.com
- Lord Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Lord Carlile at email@example.com
- Lord Dubs at DUBSA@parliament.uk
- Lord Howarth at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Lord Boswell email@example.com
- Lord Ramsbotham at firstname.lastname@example.org
Further sources of information
ILPA has done a range of detailed briefings on legal aid that you might want to have a look at before writing. These are available from their website. In particular there’s one on exceptional funding (which is due to be debated) here. There’s also a useful All Party Parliamentary Group Briefing here. JCWI’s general legal aid briefings and consultation paper responses are available here
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