Lords win amendment on legal aid
Peers in the House of Lords have defeated the Government and won a series of key amendments to the Legal Aid Bill, including making the provision of legal aid a 'binding duty'.
The three defeats come after Ken Clarke earlier defended the Government's reforms to Legal Aid, saying they were a matter of "common sense" and will not restrict access to justice.
Speaking to the Today programme this morning, the Justice Secretary said: "It doesn't close anybody's access to justice, at all. For those who don't get Legal Aid, the courts are already too expensive, so they're normally only accessible to the very rich or the very poor, but access to justice will still be there."
The plans were criticised by the Des Hudson, the head of the Law Society, who said "the poorest and weakest" would not be able to seek legal redress.
Writing exclusively for PoliticsHome, Shadow Justice Minister Lord Bach says there is a "strong sentiment" across all three parties in the House of Lords that the bill is "unconstitutional, heartless and economically unsound".
Labour's Shadow Justice Secretary Sadiq Khan MP criticised the "cuts" and said legal aid is an "investment" against "greater costs" down the line.
“This Tory-led Government has consistently ignored independent research showing that early stage legal aid intervention is actually an investment against greater costs down the line.
"Opposing these social welfare cuts is clearly the right thing to do if we are to fight the short-sighted and damaging nature of this Government’s attack on the most vulnerable in society."