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MPs reverse legal aid cut change

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MPs reverse legal aid cut change

Post by Guest on 17.04.12 23:41

17 April 2012 Last updated at 22:46

MPs reverse legal aid cut changes

MPs have overturned all the changes the House of Lords made to the government's proposals to cut legal aid.

Ministers were defeated 11 times in the House of Lords over plans to limit the scope of publicly funded support.

Peers voted to protect funding for cases of clinical negligence and domestic abuse as well as civil cases involving all those aged under 18.

But the Commons voted to reinstate the plans. However, the government agreed to keep legal aid for all tribunals.

Ministers had faced criticism that their changes would make it too difficult for women abused by their husbands and boyfriends to get the advice they needed as the definition of domestic violence was too narrow.

But Justice Secretary Ken Clarke made a U-turn, saying the government was amending the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill to make it easier for women to receive the taxpayer-funded support they need.

Ministers say their changes will speed up the system and save £350m. Labour say they will threaten access to justice.

Disputed aspects of the bill will now pass between the two Houses - in a process known as parliamentary ping-pong - until the legislation is finally approved.

The government wants Parliament to approve the legislation before the end of the current session, which could come as early as next Thursday.

The proposed legislation would effectively reverse the situation in force since 1999 where legal aid has been available for all civil cases unless specifically excluded by law.

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