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Legal Affairs - Long way to go on legal aid reforms


14th December 2005

Jonathan Djanogly yesterday condemned the Government for neglecting the legal aid system to the point of crisis.

Huntingdon MP and Shadow Solicitor-General, Jonathan Djanogly, yesterday condemned the Government for neglecting the legal aid system to the point of crisis.

He called on the Government to develop a long-term strategy on legal aid as the Criminal Defence Services Bill had its Second Reading in the House of Commons.

Speaking ahead of the debate, Jonathan Djanogly said "After four years' experience, the reforms in the Bill take us back to where we were in 2001. It has taken the Government eight years to bring back the NHS internal market and eight years to bring back grant maintained schools, so perhaps we should be impressed that it has taken them only four years to do a u-turn on legal aid. We welcome the u-turn but on its own it will not sort out a legal aid system that has fallen into such disrepair.

We need a long term strategy to reduce the amount spent on high cost cases, the top 1% of which currently accounts for 50% of the total criminal legal aid budget. The problem is not spending too little money, it is that cases need to be managed more efficiently and there needs to be clarity on what legal aid is spent on. With barristers threatening to strike, high street law firms being forced to close down on a daily basis and legal aid rates having been frozen for eight years, something must be done."



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