I’ve just received an email on behalf of the website soundoffforjustice.org. If you click on the link, you will be asked to sign a petition. I strongly recommend you do so.
This is the salient content of the email I received:
Today it was announced that the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill will be read on the 29th of June.
The Law Society are outraged.
Sound off for Justice say:
Over 725,000 people per year will be denied access to justice. The bill is in tatters and is going to cost the tax payer more than it will save.
Back bench conservative MPS have complained that ministers are not giving them any access and they do not understand the policy.
Clause 12 of the bill will remove access to a solicitor for anyone who is taken into police custody.
The cuts in civil legal aid budget means that the government is going to fund cases for financial fraud over that of family cases and victims of domestic violence.
It is outrageous that the coalition government are trying to fast-track this bill through parliament. It has rarely happened and is normally reserved for terrorism law.
What really catches my eye is the bit about Clause 12 (more information here) and the wholly coherent behaviour of a government which – in the words of Sound Off For Justice - “is going to fund cases for financial fraud over that of family cases and victims of domestic violence”.
All in it together? Yet again … not. And as the email points out, even bodies as august as the Law Society have this to say on the matter:
The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill is the single biggest attack on access to justice since the legal aid system was introduced. Legal aid for private family law cases, clinical negligence, and employment has been taken entirely out of scope.
According to the government’s own impact assessment, these cuts risk increasing crime, weakening social cohesion and access to civil rights, and costing tax payers even more.
The bill will:
- lead to higher government spending, rather than help cut the deficit
- increase criminality, adding to pressure on prison places, and
- abolish civil legal aid for victims of medical negligence and in most civil law cases.
It’s not that this government is bad. Rather, it’s a clear case of conditional relationships gone mad. They are not governing on behalf of a country. Instead, they are governing on behalf of themselves. In a country which has always despised class warfare, they will succeed in driving us off the edge of the cliffs of all reasonable behaviours – where a century of socialist opposition has absolutely failed to.
False economies, economical with the truth and now outright economic and social mismanagement. This government doesn’t understand what justice means – except perhaps in its rough manifestation.
Yet it may be choosing to foolishly forget there is such a thing as natural justice …
Further reading: more background to this appalling set of circumstances can be found here.