Responding to Robert Buckland’s swearing-in speech as the new Lord Chancellor today, Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Jonathan Marks QC has challenged him to “match his warm words about Legal Aid with action”.
 
In his speech, the Lord Chancellor said: “I remain firmly of the belief that as far as possible the right support must be provided for those who need it, particularly where actions of the state directly affect the liberty, livelihood or welfare of the individual.”
 
Following the speech, Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Jonathan Marks QC said:
 
“The new Lord Chancellor must match his warm words about Legal Aid with action.
 
“He should start be restoring Legal Aid for welfare, debt, employment, immigration, housing and family law cases.
 
“The Government has cut the Legal Aid budget by £945 million a year, more than twice the £450 million it expected when the reforms were passed in 2012. And these cuts have hit vulnerable people the hardest.
 
“Far too many people are unable to access legal advice or to afford a lawyer to represent them in court – even in cases that have profound effects on their lives.
 
“The Liberal Democrats demand better. We will reverse the £500 million of extra cuts to Legal Aid, to ensure that everyone has access to the legal advice and representation they need to defend their fundamental rights.”
 
Notes
 
The transcript of Robert Buckland’s Lord Chancellor swearing-in speech is available here.
 
The Ministry of Justice’s latest figures on legal aid expenditure, which show that overall spending has fallen from £2,602 million in 2010-11 to £1,657 million in 2018-19 (all in 2018-19 prices), are in Table 1.0 of the Legal aid statistics: January to March 2019, available here.

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