Clarke must listen to the Lords and save legal aid for the most vulnerable in society

Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan calls on Secretary of State Ken Clarke to listen to the House of Lords and abandon his proposed legal aid cuts.

 

Sadiq Khan MP (Labour, Tooting) is the shadow justice secretary and shadow Lord Chancellor

Over the past week, outrageous plans to target advice centres, like Citizens Advice Bureaux, have been stopped in their tracks. What we’ve seen is an alliance across all political parties in the House of Lords – including one of Thatcher’s former cabinet ministers – working with campaign groups such as the Women’s Institute, SCOPE and Shelter.

This alliance has blocked a bill which would have exposed victims of domestic violence, disabled people, those severely injured as a result of clinical negligence, children forcibly relocated by a parent, and victims of trafficking to no legal support.


I’m delighted these cruel proposals to cut social welfare legal aid have been stopped in their tracks and disgusted that Ken Clarke, the justice secretary, ever wanted to introduce them in the first place. But don’t be fooled by his spin that the actions this week are Labour trying to increase the deficit – this is wide of the mark for two reasons.

Firstly, the kinds of early stage legal intervention being protected save money down the line – independent research shows that large problems are avoided by nipping them in the bud, saving substantial time and effort for the taxpayer.

But, secondly, criminal legal aid, which takes the lion’s share of the overall budget, is being left relatively intact. Almost six times the spending that goes on Citizens Advice and law centres is paid to solicitors and barristers, with half going on 1 per cent of cases.

Proposals from March 2010, floated by Labour when in government, would have saved a further 10% from the budget by introducing proper competition. This has bizarrely been ignored by this government. It could pay for all their cuts to advice to the vulnerable and more.

The question for Ken Clarke QC, a former barrister himself, is why go after those elements of legal aid which whack the most vulnerable in society when there’s a report collecting dust on a shelf in his office which would have prevented these savage cuts. Even the TaxPayers’ Alliance can see that Ken is wrong on this.

I know Ken Clarke revels in being unpopular at the moment, but I urge him to break this habit, listen to the siren calls, and save this important area of legal aid threatened by his unfair bill.

See also:

Tory and Crossbench peers lead the revolt against Clarke’s legal aid cutsJonny Mulligan, March 9th 2012

The financial and personal cost of the legal aid cuts laid bareJonny Mulligan, March 7th 2012

Time for Ken Clarke to deliver peers the evidence on the real cost of legal aid cutsJonny Mulligan, March 5th 2012

The insurance industry’s millions to the Tories are set to pay offAlex Hern, January 30th 2012

Osborne’s slashing of legal aid: Another false economyDr Graham Cookson, January 10th 2012

22 Responses to “Clarke must listen to the Lords and save legal aid for the most vulnerable in society”

  1. Anonymous

    That will be the people that make most from legal aid. The fat cat lawyers.

    You’re just acting as their union spokesman determined that they don’t get a cut in wages.

  2. Guest

    What an idiotic statement. The union for the fat cats is the Bar Council. And they’ve done their job. The government is making no cuts to the Criminal Bar. Meanwhile, Citizens Advice, law centres, that do debt advice, appeals for housing, etc., are having 53% cuts. If you’re saying Sadiq Khan is acting like the union spokesman for the charitable sector that protect the most vulnerable, with solicitors on £25k on average, well I guess he’d be quite proud of that.

  3. Ann Harrison

    RT @leftfootfwd: Clarke must listen to the Lords and save #legalaid for the most vulnerable in society //t.co/REc1vXHs

  4. Anonymous

    Follow the money.

    Some goes to citizen’s advice etc.

    Most goes to the lawyers.

    The complaints over the cuts, a result of the debt, is that Legal aid shouldn’t be cut. Legal aid is for the fat cats.

  5. Sadiq Khan MP

    My piece @leftfootfwd: Clarke must listen to the Lords and save legal aid for the most vulnerable in society //t.co/PPhqI4SA

  6. Suzanne Thompson

    My piece @leftfootfwd: Clarke must listen to the Lords and save legal aid for the most vulnerable in society //t.co/PPhqI4SA

  7. Matt Fiddy

    My piece @leftfootfwd: Clarke must listen to the Lords and save legal aid for the most vulnerable in society //t.co/PPhqI4SA

  8. Shamik Das

    My piece @leftfootfwd: Clarke must listen to the Lords and save legal aid for the most vulnerable in society //t.co/PPhqI4SA

  9. Amanda Ramsay

    My piece @leftfootfwd: Clarke must listen to the Lords and save legal aid for the most vulnerable in society //t.co/PPhqI4SA

  10. Sam hussain

    My piece @leftfootfwd: Clarke must listen to the Lords and save legal aid for the most vulnerable in society //t.co/PPhqI4SA

  11. seuss

    My piece @leftfootfwd: Clarke must listen to the Lords and save legal aid for the most vulnerable in society //t.co/PPhqI4SA

  12. Newsbot9

    Funny, the Law Society has proposed a fully-costed alternative which saves MORE money AND doesn’t deprive the poorest of legal representation. It’s not in their interests to have litigants in person tying up the system either.

    (And there are also other fully-costed proposals from other groups, too)

    Follow the cash – it’s easy to see where you invest.

  13. Helen Williams

    RT @leftfootfwd: Clarke must listen to the Lords and save #legalaid for the most vulnerable in society //t.co/REc1vXHs

  14. LabourLordsUK

    My piece @leftfootfwd: Clarke must listen to the Lords and save legal aid for the most vulnerable in society //t.co/PPhqI4SA

  15. Look Left – Spotlight shone on legal aid cuts as Clarke urged to think again | Left Foot Forward

    […] on Left Foot Forward, shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan again called on Ken Clarke to listen to all those ranged against him and think again: “Over the past week, […]

  16. Ruth Hayes

    Clarke must listen to the Lords and save legal aid for the most vulnerable in society, writes @SadiqKhan: //t.co/4mQAQfHq

  17. Noxi

    RT @leftfootfwd Clarke must listen to the Lords + save legal aid for the most vulnerable in society, writes @SadiqKhan: //t.co/xkU384g6

  18. Brnch Sec Ruth H

    My piece @leftfootfwd: Clarke must listen to the Lords and save legal aid for the most vulnerable in society //t.co/PPhqI4SA

  19. Newsbot9

    Back in reality, the Law Society and other bodies have suggested FULLY COSTED proposals which would save more money and protect the vulnerable.

    You’re just out to rip people off. As usual.

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  21. Lib Dem conference gives Clegg a get out of jail free card on the legal aid cuts | Left Foot Forward

    […] Khan: Clarke must listen to the Lords and save legal aid for the most vulnerable 9 Mar […]

  22. A coalition at war over Lords reform | Left Foot Forward

    […] Clarke must listen to the Lords and save legal aid for the most vulnerable in society 9 Mar […]

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