Young Legal Aid Lawyers appalled at Governmentâ€™s response to the Constitutional Affairs Committeeï
Young Legal Aid Lawyers are shocked and disappointed that in spite of the Constitutional Affairs Committeeâ€™s warnings about the â€˜breathtaking riskâ€™ of implementing Lord Carterâ€™s reforms, the Governmentâ€™s response, published on Friday, flippantly dismisses these serious warnings.
While the Committee stressed the need for further research into the possible effect of the proposals on the supply of legal help to the most vulnerable, the impact these reforms may have on BME suppliers and the dangers of Best Value Tendering, the Government response has dismissed these worries out of hand, displaying a now familiar caviler attitude to the future of Legal Aid.
The lack of explanation for dismissing the Committeeâ€™s recommendations is appalling. The complacency of the Government in their attitude to specialist providers is truly breathtaking for a Government that purports to aim to help the vulnerable and socially excluded.
We welcome the response of the Chairman of the Constitutional Affairs Committee, Alan Beith MP who will be calling for a debate on the floor of the House of Commons on the issue as a matter of urgency. We would also urge all YLAL members to write to their Member of Parliament to ask them to press for a debate at the earliest possible opportunity.
Throughout this whole process YLAL has been calling on the Government to assess the impact of these reforms on those entering the profession. Yet again our submissions and those of many other practitioners go unheeded. On Friday the Government and Legal Services Commission produced at least four further consultations. With firms in disbelief at the lack of attention paid to previous consultations, is it any wonder that lawyers would rather be helping clients than attempting to respond to yet another consultation destined to be ignored?
Notes to Editors
- The Governmentâ€™s response can be found at http://www.justice.gov.uk/docs/legal-aid-reform.pdf
- The Report of the Constitutional Affairs Committee can be found at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmselect/cmconst/223/22302.htm
Young Legal Aid Lawyers was founded in 2005 to represent the views of students, barristers, solicitors and other lawyers entering or newly entered to the profession committed to legal aid: www.younglegalaidlawyers.org