".LASPO Bill a sad and tatty chapter in the story of post war access to justice - Khan 25 April 2012
Sadiq Khan MP, Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary, commenting on the looming Royal Assent for the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, said:
“Today the Legal Aid, Sentencing & Punishment of Offenders Bill will receive its Royal Assent. During its progress, the Government were defeated a record 14 times on their unfair and tawdry Bill.
“Overall, the Bill is a sad and tatty chapter in the story of post war access to justice. It shamefully reduces damages for victims of clinical negligence and the sufferers of most industrial diseases, and makes just cases such as Trafigura impossible to happen again. It reduces protection for women and children suffering domestic violence. Only because of the hard work of campaign groups, working closely with Labour in both the Commons and the Lords, was there a softening at the edges of the harshest of proposal for sufferers of mesothelioma, and only then did the Government concede under the greatest reluctance.
“The onslaught on our precious legal aid system is an act of vandalism for which this Tory-led Government will be forever remembered. We offered alternative savings but these were rejected. Funding of our vital grass roots advice network – our CABs, law centres and high street firms – is threatened. This will expose the most vulnerable in our society drowning with debt, housing and welfare benefit problems to the full force of the law, without any of the crucial early stage advice and support that’s proven to make a real difference, and ultimately save the taxpayer money down the line.
“Despite a few bits of common sense that Labour fought for inclusion, such as proposals on metal theft, creation of an offence of causing serious injury by dangerous driving, and putting on the statute Jane’s Law on appeals against bail decisions, overall the Bill dismantles the sentencing infrastructure for the most serious and violent offenders, allows people with histories of witness intimidation out on bail and lets the most serious criminal and sexual offenders hide their pasts to new employers.
“I pay tribute to the Labour team in both houses, the Crossbenchers, those principled enough to oppose their own Government, the late Lord Newton of Braintree who fought so valiantly right to his last days and the alliance of fantastically dedicated and experienced campaign groups – all of whom resisted with all their energy this out of touch Government’s onslaught on access to justice.”