Bill Esterson: Tory-Lib Dem Legal Aid cuts will mean justice is

Bill Esterson

 

Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson said Tory-Lib Dem Government cuts to Legal Aid would mean justice would be out of reach for many of the most vulnerable children, young people and families.

The Conservative–Liberal Democrat Government is making cuts to Legal Aid which will mean that thousands of people will not be able to afford to protect themselves. 

Civil Legal Aid enables people to take cases against unscrupulous landlords, abusive partners, and illegal decisions taken against those fleeing oppression back in their native countries.

When Legal Aid is cut, expertise is lost and community law centres and CABs are threatened with closure.

Bill quizzed Justice Secretary Chris Grayling about the legal aid changes in Parliament today.

The Sefton Central Labour MP asked the Justice Secretary: "What assessment he has made of the potential effect on children of recent changes to Legal Aid?

"This Children’s Society said of the Government's legal aid changes, 'these changes will prevent some of the most vulnerable children, young people and families from seeking and obtaining justice'. Has anything been changed to allay their fears?"

Speaking afterwards, Bill said the Tories' and Lib Dems' Legal Aid changes would mean that getting justice would be too expensive for many of the most vulnerable people.

Bill said: "Legal Aid was established after the war as part of the welfare state to help ordinary people have the right to justice. The budget is already insufficient to meet the rising need for advice and acts of assistance, and its demands are expected to grow. The need for legal aid has increased since the start of the recession as families struggle to remain in their homes on limited incomes, or fall foul to the exploitation of others.

"The impact of this could be devastating for vulnerable children, young people and vulnerable families who would not be able to pay for the legal advice and assistance that they may need.

"The Tory-Lib Dem cuts mean the courts will become a place for the wealthy, while the vulnerable will have to suffer the abuses of others, or beg for mercy, with no recourse to the justice system.

"Turning their back on the principle of justice for all, the Tories and Lib Dems are making sure that the justice system is only accessible to those who can afford it. If you have the money, you can have access justice. If you don't have the money, you don't.

"This is another example of this government targeting the poorest and most vulnerable. It is the most vulnerable who are effectively being disbarred from the legal system. But to attack children who have no way of defending themselves is a step too far even for this vicious government and they really should be saying how on earth they expect children to protect themselves in our expensive and complex legal system.”