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Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill - Public Bill Committee Stage - Have your say! closes 13th October 2011

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John
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Second reading of Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, have your say

Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Kenneth Clarke, introduced the second reading of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill in the House of Commons on Wednesday 29 June.

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The Bill passed with a vote (Ayes 295; Noes 212) and will now be considered by a Public Bill Committee.

Watch and read the debate and the views expressed by MPs on Parliament TV and in Commons Hansard. Shadow Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Sadiq Khan, responded on behalf of the Opposition.

Have your say

The Bill has now been sent to a Public Bill Committee for scrutiny and there is a call for written evidence.

Do you have relevant expertise and experience or a special interest in the Government's Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill? If so, you can submit your views in writing to the House of Commons Public Bill Committee which is going to consider this Bill.

Guidance for submitting written evidence

Deadline for submissions

The Committee is able to receive written evidence from Wednesday 29 June, when the Bill passes the Second Reading Stage; and will stop receiving written evidence at the end of the Committee stage on Thursday 13 October. The sooner you send in your submission, the more time the Committee will have to take it into consideration. The Public Bill Committee is expected to meet for the first time on Tuesday 12 July.

Summary of the Bill

The Bill covers a wide range of issues. It comprises four parts and 16 schedules. Part 1 makes provisions on legal aid, Part 2 deals with litigation funding and costs, and Part 3 covers sentencing and the punishment of offenders.

The House of Commons Library have produced a briefing paper which provides detailed analysis of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill.

Keep up to date with all the proceedings on the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill. Also find out how a Bill becomes an Act of Parliament.

Second reading

Second reading is the first opportunity for MPs to debate the main principles of the Bill. It usually takes place no sooner than two weekends after first reading.

What happens at second reading?

The Government minister, spokesperson or MP responsible for the Bill opens the second reading debate. The official Opposition spokesperson responds with their views on the Bill.

The debate continues with other Opposition parties and backbench MPs giving their opinions. At the end of the debate, the Commons decides whether the Bill should be given its second reading by voting, meaning it can proceed to the next stage.

What happens after second reading?

The Bill proceeds to committee stage and will be considered in a Public Bill Committee. Each clause (part) and any amendments (proposals for change) to the Bill may be debated.

John
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Legal aid for benefit appeals and reviews is ‘vital to success of welfare reform’<

Group of 24 national charities urges MPs to support amendment to Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill

 

31 October, 2011

 

Legal aid for benefit appeals and reviews is 'vital to the success of welfare reform', according to a new Justice for All briefing, endorsed by a group of 24 charities including Citizens Advice, Mind, Scope, the RNIB, Child Poverty Action Group and Lasa.

The new briefing urges MPs to back an amendment to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, introduced by a group of Liberal Democrat MPs, which would bring legal help with benefit reviews and appeals back within the scope of legal aid.

The charities say that ensuring people access the benefit appropriate to their needs is vital to the success of universal credit, because it determines not only financial entitlement but also the level of support an individual is given to get back to work, and that, whilst this tailored support lies at the heart of the new system, it will be irrelevant if people are placed onto the wrong benefit.

In addition, the briefing highlights that advice on welfare benefits appeals costs only £150 per case and that Citizens Advice have estimated that benefits advice saves £8.80 for every £1.00 spent, because it prevents bigger and more costly problems further down the line.

Chief Executive of Scope Richard Hawkes said -

'Seventy-eight thousand disabled people per year will be denied legal help if welfare benefits advice is no longer covered by legal aid. We urge MPs to support amendments to this Bill to put welfare cases back into the scope of legal aid.

'Legal advice is vital for disabled people if they fall foul of poor decision-making, red tape or administrative error, and this makes it crucial to the success of the government’s welfare reforms. For welfare reform to work disabled people have to get support to appeal decisions relating to their benefits, especially within a system where errors are commonplace. Cutting legal aid in this area will make it harder for disabled people to get the right support and ultimately could drive more people further away from work.'

The Justice for All briefing, Retaining legal aid for welfare benefits appeals<, is available from justice-for-all.org.uk

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