Upside Down Legal Aid Politics in the UK

The UK’s Lord Tebbit was one of Thatcher’s major allies.  Yet here he is reported in the Guardian under the headline: Lord Tebbit in fight to save legal aid for children’s medical cases.

He appears to be one of the leaders in the attempt in the House of Lords to derail major components of the massive cutbacks in UK’s legal aid system moving forward under the Tory-Liberal coalition.

The arch-Thatcherite Lord Tebbit is among a group of peers campaigning to save access to legal aid for children involved in medical negligence claims.

As the Guardian explains:  “The government is proposing removing legal aid from all clinical negligence cases as well as other areas such as debt, housing, welfare, employment and family disputes.”


More than 200 amendments have been put down for the bill’s committee stage to change government proposals, including the one drafted by Tebbit and Newton.

Prominent lawyers who have tabled [translation: proposed] amendments include the former lord chief justice, Lord Woolf, the appeal court judge Lady Butler-Sloss, the former atttorney general, Lady Scotland, the former director of public prosecutions, Lord Macdonald, and leading barrister Lord Pannick.

Among Lib Dems, Lord Carlile, the government’s former reviewer of anti-terrorism legislation and Lord Phillips of Sudbury have put down amendments to the bill.

On Monday the joint parliamentary committee on human rights became the latest select committee to produce a critical report on the bill. It highlighted “the lack of independence of the proposed director of legal aid case work and called for an appeals system for those refused legal aid.

The committee also expressed concern about the introduction of means-testing for legal advice and assistance at police stations, warning that it would “hinder the effective exercise of the right of access to legal advice by an arrested and detained person”.

It’s as if Newt Gingrich were fighting against LSC restrictions.  Any theories for this difference?

Thanks to the Access to Justice Blog for this find.


About richardzorza

I am deeply involved in access to justice and the patient voice movement.
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1 Response to Upside Down Legal Aid Politics in the UK

  1. Congrats on being named an honoree of the ABA Journal’s top 100 law blogs for 2011!

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