Update to the profession: Legal aid - write to your MP!
7 May 2013
The Bar Council's General Management Committee, which brings
together representatives from across the profession, last week
approved public affairs and communications strategies for our
campaign of opposition to the wide-ranging changes proposed in the
legal aid consultation paper.
Those plans will take us through the period to the end of the
consultation on 4 June, and beyond, to the Government's expected
decision expected in September. We are now implementing our adopted
plan for addressing the Ministry of Justice's proposals.
First and foremost we are responding fully and in the strongest
terms both to the criminal and civil proposals made in the
On Friday, I published information about how individual members
of the Bar could add fuel to the Bar Council's efforts to make the
Coalition Government think again about their proposals.
There are already two live petitions you should support if you
have not already done so:
http://t.co/dr6Rr8HTjD is a
petition hosted by Number 10 website: if it reaches 100,000
signatures, the petition is referred to the Backbench Business
Committee of the House of Commons, which may allocate the issue
time for a debate.
With MPs returning to Westminster tomorrow, I am now asking
every member of the Bar (whatever their area of practice) to write
to their MP, expressing their concern at the consultation paper.
Experience and evidence suggests that large numbers of template
letters sent to MPs tend to be given less weight than individually
prepared responses. Personally drafted letters may have much more
impact, particularly if you include reference to your neighbourhood
That's why we have prepared this easy guide for busy
practitioners to producing your own bespoke lobbying letter.
Step one: find your MP's name and contact details here - http://www.theyworkforyou.com/
- simply type in your postcode.
Step two: use our new 'Legal Aid Core Case' two-page
document to select the points you wish to emphasise in
your letter. Make clear that you are a constituent and that you are
seeking the assistance of your MP.
Step three: ask the MP to take specific action. There are many
things that they can do on your behalf, but here is a selection you
might choose from:
To agree to meet you to hear your concerns
To write to the Secretary of State, Chris Grayling, or the
Minister, Lord McNally, raising your concerns
To request a meeting with the Secretary of State or the
To table written questions about the impact of the changes with
the Ministry of Justice
To enter the ballot for oral questions with Secretary of State
or the Minister [the next Justice oral questions must be tabled by
15 May for answer on 21 May]
To raise the issue during The Queen's Speech debates, which
follow the State Opening of Parliament tomorrow, Wednesday 8
To move the issue in an adjournment debate or a Westminster Hall
debate if they win the ballot for one of these slots
To raise the issue in the local or national media
To apply for a debate with other Members via the Backbench
Business Committee, in the time allocated to it, or
To be ready to pray against any statutory instruments tabled
eventually to give effect to these measure.
Step four: submit your letter and send a copy to me at LAReform@BarCouncil.org.uk,
together with any response, so that we can log positive responses
with the results of the lobbying that we are co-ordinating
centrally from the Bar Council, and with the rest of the
Thank you in advance for your support. It's vital that we get
the message out: if implemented these proposals will damage access
to justice and they will damage the Bar. Neither is in the public
interest. The individual actions of members of the profession will
lend real weight to our campaign to oppose these proposals, so
please support our campaign.
Maura McGowan QC
Chairman of the Bar