Proposed legal aid cuts threaten our members – please help us challenge them
Advocacy 11 June 2013
Government proposals for a second round of cuts to legal aid (publicly funded legal representation) are coming ever closer to fruition. We’re deeply concerned that if passed, these proposals will have a damaging effect on many of our members, who have fled torture and persecution to seek asylum in the UK.
The proposed legislation will ensure that, with the exception of first time asylum applicants, only those who have lawfully resided in the UK for at least 12 months will have access to legal aid. This will inevitably exclude a worrying proportion of vulnerable migrants, for example: failed asylum seekers who have new evidence to support a fresh claim, some victims of trafficking, and detained asylum seekers who wish to challenge their detention as inappropriate or unlawful. Legal aid for judicial reviews and bail will also be unavailable, denying all but the richest few access to justice and the ability to challenge the decisions of courts and public bodies.
The Justice Select Committee is due to sit on 11 June 2013. The Lord Chancellor intends pushing these changes through by secondary legislation if he can, so we need to do everything we can to open this up to scrutiny by parliament.100,000 signatures are needed to trigger a referral to the committee which decides on a parliamentary debate. So far we have 86,941.
Please sign the petition to help.
You can also urge your MP to write to the Justice Secretary, asking him to abandon these proposals.
If you want to find out more:
- Briefing Sheet by Matrix Chambers: Civil and Legal Proposals
- Ministry of Justice: Transforming Legal Aid
- A selection of submissions to the public consultation
We appreciate your support and will keep you updated as the situation progresses.
The Room to Heal Team