Bar Council Calls on Government to Accept Vital Legal Aid Amendments

17 April 2012

As the House of Commons prepares today to consider amendments passed in the House of Lords to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Bill, the Bar Council, which represents barristers in England and Wales, has called on the Government to accept these vital changes.

Michael Todd QC, Chairman of the Bar Council, said:

"During the Report Stage and Third Reading of the LASPO Bill in the House of Lords, the Government was defeated on a staggering 11 amendments, in some cases by a large number of votes. Peers from all three main parties, Plaid Cymru and Crossbenchers were moved to speak against this damaging piece of legislation.

"All of the amendments aim to ensure that the most vulnerable in society continue to receive the support they need to resolve their legal problems. Many will cost very little in practice, whilst others will generate substantial savings further down the line, as problems are resolved at an earlier opportunity, thus relieving the taxpayer of greater expenditure at a later stage.

"As we look ahead to the Commons' consideration of these amendments, we speak for many of those who have campaigned against this Bill's provisions, as well as those working with vulnerable individuals in the not for profit sector, in calling on the Government to recognise that, after very thorough scrutiny in the Lords, the Bill returns to the Commons much improved. While its impact will still be significant, the added protections offered by these amendments are vital, and we urge the Government to accept them."

ENDS

Notes to editors

1. For further information, please contact the Bar Council Press Office on 020 7222 2525.

2. Please click here to read the Bar Council's briefing for MPs for the Commons' consideration of the Lords' amendments to the LASPO Bill. 

3. The Bar Council represents barristers in England and Wales. It promotes:

• The Bar's high quality specialist advocacy and advisory services
• Fair access to justice for all
• The highest standards of ethics, equality and diversity across the profession, and
• The development of business opportunities for barristers at home and abroad.

The General Council of the Bar is the Approved Regulator of the Bar of England and Wales. It discharges its regulatory functions through the independent Bar Standards Board.