Cambridge 'one of the worst hit' under legal aid reforms

July 16, 2007 1:31 PM

Cambridge MP David Howarth has condemned Government plans to reform the Legal Aid scheme.

Mr Howarth, who is Shadow Solicitor General for the Liberal Democrats, spoke out during a Westminster Hall debate on the Carter Review. The Carter Review proposes introduce a fixed fee system for lawyers taking on legal aid cases.

David commented:

"The Government's plans will lead to those with complex legal situations being left undefended. Many legal firms may not be able to take on the financial risk of possibly long and complex cases or complex individuals when the Government introduces a fixed fee per case. The most vulnerable people, those in need of specialist interpreters or other expensive help may find themselves with no one to turn to.

"This is not the way legal aid should work. We need to ensure that no-one is prevented from having a proper defense in court because they can't afford it."

The Department of Constitutional Affairs' own impact assessment pointed out that cities like Cambridge with large number of small legal firms would be especially badly hit by the reforms.

David commented:

David Howarth MP in the House of Commons

David Howarth MP

"Here in Cambridge we are lucky to have many small law firms who specialise in taking on legal aid cases, and helping those who could not otherwise afford legal help. It is precisely these firms who will struggle to survive under the new rules. I hope that the Government rethinks these proposals to safeguard legal aid for the future."

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