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Senior Tory MPs and Family Law Bar Association warn government about how legal aid cuts will affect women

(13 Posts)
Thistledew Wed 21-Sep-11 14:17:16

From Sound Off For Justice:

"Senior backbench Conservative MPs and the Family Law Bar Association have both warned about the effects on women if the government’s planned £350 million cuts to legal aid go through.

Conservative MP Anna Soubry told the Huffington Post that she and other backbench colleagues are concerned about how this will affect women. Anna Soubry commented, “We’re not happy about the changes in legal aid… we’re fearful they will affect women who are separating from husbands. We’ve identified that as a problem.” She continued, “We have to persuade people that we are in touch with the needs and desires of all sections of society. And perhaps we haven’t done a great job of that… the cuts will affect those women more profoundly. It’s a very sad fact but hopefully when the growth comes, they will see why we had to do that.”

Whilst in a meeting on Saturday attended by the attorney general Dominic Greive, the Chairman of the Family Law Bar Association said women and children would be hit hard by the £350 million cuts. Stephen Cobb QC, Chairman of the Family Law Bar Association said, “If the government pushes through its proposed cuts to legal aid, the future for family justice looks bleak. This is not a matter of lawyers bemoaning further fee cuts: we have the support of a number of voluntary organisations representing women, children and victims of domestic abuse. These reforms will result in 54,000 fewer people represented in the family courts annually, affecting 68,000 children at the centre of traumatic family breakdown.”"

Please add your support to this campaign against the proposed cuts to legal aid by signing the petition if you have not already done so.

Also, does anyone else think that Mumsnet should match Netmums and become an official supporter of this campaign?

ttosca Wed 21-Sep-11 21:25:08

Signed, thanks.

Though I think the only way to stop the attack on civil society is to topple the government.

babybarrister Mon 10-Oct-11 13:42:20

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 10-Oct-11 13:45:48

@ttosca...topple your own government by all means. But those of us who live in the UK would rather vote them in or out.

edam Mon 10-Oct-11 20:50:48

Cogito - if you recall, they didn't actually win the election in the first place. Voting hasn't done us much good so far, has it? For instance, NHS privatisation wasn't in either manifesto, nor in the coalition agreement, but it's being pushed through, against the wishes of the vast majority of voters.

edam Mon 10-Oct-11 20:55:12

oops sorry, interrupted - meant to say, have signed the petition.

I'm particularly concerned about the impact on victims of domestic violence. My boss tried to give evidence on this issue, explaining quite how badly the reforms will affect this group of vulnerable women. But the government wasn't interested - brushed her off with a patronising pat on the head. Simply refused to accept there could possibly be any problem with their plans at all. After all, she was only representing a bunch of women... (and women who you'd think the Tories would want to court, actually, not allied to any particular party). It's not just Cameron in the Commons sneering 'calm down dear', contempt for women really does seem to run through this government like Brighton through a stick of rock.

babybarrister Tue 11-Oct-11 16:29:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Thistledew Tue 11-Oct-11 17:53:14

babybarrister - Sadly, it is attitudes like that from the legal profession that have led to lawyers time and time again rolling over and not tackling the government on important issues relating to legal aid. They now expect that they can push through major changes without any real resistance.

I see nothing wrong in standing up and saying that my job is an important public service. I think it is worth protecting, not for my own sake but for the sake of the people who need my services.

I am sure you meant your comment tongue in cheek, but this is not the time to be self-deprecating about the work; it is the time to stand up for what you believe in.

TheWorldisYourLobster Tue 11-Oct-11 18:14:54

Thistledew - Lawyers are not 'rolling over', they are trying desperately hard to keep legal aid. What is actually happening is that solicitors' firms are going bankrupt at an alarming rate and just trying to stay in business has kept them rather busy. What exactly do you think they should be doing?

Thistledew Tue 11-Oct-11 18:45:18

Support the fricking campaign, for one thing! This has been the third time I have posted about Sound Off for Justice here, trying to drum up support to ask MNHQ if we can be an official supporter, but hardly anyone is interested.

It is just one campaign, but it is quite well run and had some good support. I think every law firm should support it, get their staff and clients to sign it, and lobby their MP.

If every firm with a legal aid contract joined forces and threatened a strike if the proposals go through, the government would be forced to listen.

TheWorldisYourLobster Tue 11-Oct-11 19:11:03

I suspect that the reason you have found it hard to gather support for this cause is that many people believe (quite wrongly) that it is just fat cat lawyers bleating about having a pay cut.

I know from personal experience that the vast majority of legal aid lawyers work desperately hard for a meagre financial reward. They only do it because they actually care about their clients and they care about justice.

Many of them have already been made redundant as the legal aid contracts pay so little it is just not financially viable to continue doing that sort of work. What has become obvious is that this government has absolutely no intention of modifying it proposals.

I absolutely agree with you that more should be done to publicise this because once legal aid has gone, it won't be coming back. There will be no solicitors left to do it! However, blaming the lawyers for not doing more to protect legal aid seems extremely harsh.

TheWorldisYourLobster Tue 11-Oct-11 19:13:36

My husband is a solicitor (wasn't that obvious?) with about 1000 followers on Twitter. I'll make sure he tweets the link (if he hasn't already done so).

babybarrister Tue 11-Oct-11 20:58:30

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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