Tory MP: People opposed to legal aid cuts are “irresponsible and unhelpful”

Tory MP Ben Gummer attacked campaigners against the government's legal aid cuts at the Law Society fringe at the Conservative party conference last night.

By Jonny Mulligan of the Sound off for Justice campaign

Tory MP Ben Gummer attacked campaigners against the government’s legal aid cuts at the Law Society fringe at the Conservative party conference last night.

He said suggestions from Sound off for Justice and others that vulnerable people may die as a result of the government’s legal aid cuts were “irresponsible and unhelpful”. He said the words on our display stand of “supporting solicitors” summed it all up – that we are running this campaign as a trade union supporting its members.

Gummer said the cuts had to be made due to the deficit and if they weren’t made now, then even bigger cuts would have to be made down the line. Sound Off For Justice have made it very clear to the government these cuts will cost the taxpayer more because their analysis into the impact of the cuts is inaccurate and has been done without evidence.

The Ipswich MP also claimed we have the most expensive legal aid system in Europe and the world. This is factually incorrect and the Public Bill Committee scrutinising the proposed legal aid cuts being made through the legal aid, sentencing and punishment of offenders bill, along with Mr Gummer, have been given the evidence on countless occasions demonstrating it is simply wrong.

We are surprised Mr Gummer is still trotting out the same line when it is factually inaccurate. He seems to think that repeating the same statement will somehow make it true.

In family cases, Mr Gummer suggested more mediation is needed. This is after the head of family mediation and the MP, Alan Beith, both warned mediation resources are at breaking point and there are not adequate alternatives.

On Sound Off For Justice’s alternative savings, Mr Gummer said cutting bar fees was something the Bar Council disagreed with so we “couldn’t get our story straight”.

In a roundabout turn today he said it was now “do or die” for the legal system. Sound Off For Justice would like to know what that means? Mr Gummer said that in clinical negligence cases, victims could use Conditional Fee Agreements (CFAs) instead of legal aid. He also said there had been significant changes to the definition of domestic violence.

He added that Sound Off For Justice need to do less political positioning and be more balanced. Sound Off For Justice have at all times looked to engage with the government about this issue to ensure vulnerable people who rely on legal aid the most are not punished and silenced in court.

Mr Gummer has confirmed he approved of the government’s plan for telephone advice to replace front line legal aid support services and counsel.

The vice president of the Law Society, Lucy Scott-Moncrieff, replied stating the profession has a serious responsibility to the rule of law and access to justice, talking about how the Law Society had the:

“…expertise to highlight ways of improving legislation and this is a public interest duty and not in our private interest.”

She added that Sound Off For Justice don’t think the government has properly looked at our alternative cost-savings. She refuted the concession over the definition of domestic violence and stood by her claim people would die if these legal cuts went through in their current form.

Does Mr Gummer think organisations such as Gingerbread, Rights of Women, the Women’s Institute and Action against Medical Accidents are all just “supporting solicitors” too?

Is he arguing the Bar must agree with cuts to their fees before the Ministry of Justice will tackle the issue of overpaid barristers?

What does he suggest those people whose ex-partners issue court proceedings without being willing to consider mediation do?

Why is he again uttering the same, inaccurate assessment and comparison of our legal aid system with Europe, despite having repeatedly been shown it is a lie?

It is utterly disingenuous to claim that just because a well-educated MP or civil servant with a good support network can deal with matters on the telephone, that a poorly educated and vulnerable client can do so. How low are the depths to which this debate is going to be dragged?

See also:

NHS report urges government to stop legal aid cutsJonny Mulligan, July 12th 2011

Without legal aid how do victims’ families take on the News of the World?Jonny Mulligan, July 7th 2011

Outrage at government plans to fast track legal aid legislationJonny Mulligan, June 24th 2011

Fat cats will continue to milk the legal aid budget – while the vulnerable sufferJonny Mulligan, June 22nd 2011

Two women a week die from domestic violence; legal aid cuts will see moreJonny Mulligan, June 16th 2011

Clarke’s legal aid axe cuts our rights not the deficitKarl Turner MP, March 31st 2011

Legal aid training scheme cuts will hit the poor hardestSundip Meghani, July 9th 2010

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32 Responses to “Tory MP: People opposed to legal aid cuts are “irresponsible and unhelpful””

  1. Christian Guthier

    Tory MP: People opposed to Legal Aid cuts are “irresponsible and unhelpful”: http://t.co/C53vSKTj by @SoundOffJustice #CPC11

  2. Annika Seabrook

    Tory MP: People opposed to Legal Aid cuts are “irresponsible and unhelpful”: http://t.co/C53vSKTj by @SoundOffJustice #CPC11

  3. Julie Eason

    Tory MP: People opposed to Legal Aid cuts are “irresponsible and unhelpful”: http://t.co/C53vSKTj by @SoundOffJustice #CPC11

  4. Jane Leach

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  5. SoundOff for Justice

    RT @leftfootfwd:Tory MP: People opposed to Legal Aid cuts are “irresponsible and unhelpful”: http://t.co/yf40moCk by @SoundOffJustice #CPC11

  6. Derek Bryant

    Tory MP: People opposed to Legal Aid cuts are “irresponsible and unhelpful”: http://t.co/C53vSKTj by @SoundOffJustice #CPC11

  7. Rep in the Region

    Tory MP: People opposed to Legal Aid cuts are “irresponsible and unhelpful”: http://t.co/C53vSKTj by @SoundOffJustice #CPC11

  8. No Jury No Justice

    RT @leftfootfwd:Tory MP: People opposed to Legal Aid cuts are “irresponsible and unhelpful”: http://t.co/yf40moCk by @SoundOffJustice #CPC11

  9. Keith MacNider

    Tory MP: People opposed to Legal Aid cuts are “irresponsible and unhelpful”: http://t.co/C53vSKTj by @SoundOffJustice #CPC11

  10. LawCentresFederation

    'Get real' Gummer reiterates government arguments regarding #legalaid: http://t.co/J6Kcycss and http://t.co/d9nTGfWz #cpc11

  11. Michael

    Tory MP: People opposed to legal aid cuts are “irresponsible and unhelpful” l Left Foot Forward – http://j.mp/qHNmiP – Call me irresponsible

  12. Feral_britain

    Tory MP: People opposed to legal aid cuts are “irresponsible and unhelpful” l Left Foot Forward – http://j.mp/qHNmiP – Call me irresponsible

  13. Michael Bater

    RT @leftfootfwd: Tory MP: People opposed to legal aid cuts are “irresponsible and unhelpful” http://t.co/fDwYV31b

  14. Rosie

    RT @leftfootfwd: Tory MP: People opposed to legal aid cuts are “irresponsible and unhelpful” http://t.co/fDwYV31b

  15. Pauline

    Tory MP: People opposed to legal aid cuts are “irresponsible and unhelpful” l Left Foot Forward – http://j.mp/qHNmiP – Call me irresponsible

  16. Francis Hoar

    These ignorant assertions are a disgrace.Learn facts before spouting crap,Gummer (by @leftfootfwd ). http://t.co/toyyIuFr

  17. Juliette Frangos

    RT @leftfootfwd:Tory MP: People opposed to Legal Aid cuts are “irresponsible and unhelpful”: http://t.co/yf40moCk by @SoundOffJustice #CPC11

  18. MyProLaw

    Tory MP: People opposed to legal aid cuts are “irresponsible and unhelpful” http://t.co/WjrW4d4f

  19. Whats My Claim Worth

    Tory MP Ben Gummer attacked campaigners against the government’s #legal aid cuts http://t.co/mvADUqYi

  20. Aneesa Akbar

    RT @leftfootfwd:Tory MP: People opposed to Legal Aid cuts are “irresponsible and unhelpful”: http://t.co/yf40moCk by @SoundOffJustice #CPC11

  21. Victoria

    Tory MP: People opposed to Legal Aid cuts are “irresponsible and unhelpful”: http://t.co/C53vSKTj by @SoundOffJustice #CPC11

  22. janet ewan

    Tory MP: People opposed to legal aid cuts are “irresponsible and unhelpful” l Left Foot Forward – http://j.mp/qHNmiP – Call me irresponsible

  23. The Unhelpful Blog

    Tory MP: People opposed to legal aid cuts are “irresponsible and #unhelpful” – Left Foot Forward: Left Foot Forw… http://t.co/WVYPDjAW

  24. Enytheng

    Tory MP: People opposed to legal aid cuts are “irresponsible and unhelpful”: By Jonny Mulligan of the Sound off … http://t.co/grlBlGCU

  25. FullLegalHelp

    Tory MP: People opposed to legal aid cuts are “irresponsible and unhelpful”: By Jonny Mulligan of the Sound off … http://t.co/XriMOdqb

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  27. Ann Harrison

    “@soundoffjustice: Tory MP: People opposed to Legal Aid cuts are “irresponsible and unhelpful”: http://t.co/NM8hGY2h #CPC11” I despair. B

  28. Conrad Marinkovic

    RT @leftfootfwd:Tory MP: People opposed to Legal Aid cuts are “irresponsible and unhelpful”: http://t.co/yf40moCk by @SoundOffJustice #CPC11

  29. MyProLaw

    Tory MP: People opposed to Legal Aid cuts are “irresponsible and … http://t.co/znN9OaMr

  30. Dave Citizen

    It’s a classic debating ploy of the ignorant but self righteous to portray anyone with a contrary opinion as somehow holding completely illegitimate views. OK when you’re arguing with your mate after a skinfull and becoming all too common from many of our politcal representatives.

    I think any reasonable responsile person would agree we should sack the lot of them!!

  31. thelawmap

    RT @leftfootfwd: Tory MP: People opposed to legal aid cuts are “irresponsible and unhelpful” http://t.co/oQ1Cu2nT

  32. Alasdair Ross

    @ben4ipswich attacked again on his stance on Legal aid – http://t.co/WA4jLKkk Mr Gummer states story is inaccurate http://t.co/0uBDznii

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