On behalf of Advice Derbyshire, Chesterfield Law Centre, Derby and District Law Society, Derbyshire Unemployed Workers’ Centres, Elliot Mather Solicitors, and Citizens Advice Bureaux of Chesterfield and North East Derbyshire, we would like to thank all those that have signed our ‘Justice for All’ petition.
We are pleased to have gathered over 1,500 signatures locally. The petition was presented to Toby Perkins MP and Natascha Engel MP, who have, in turn, passed it to the Petition Office.
The petition advocated the need for individuals and families on low income to have access to free legal advice on everyday problems with benefits, debt, education, employment, family, housing and homelessness.
Without the safety net of legal aid, there will be many low income families who will not be able to afford to pay for legal advice or legal expenses insurance cover to obtain the essential advice and representation needed when faced with the loss of a job, serious debt problems or the repossession of the family home.
The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill 2011, has now completed the Committee stage and will be forwarded to the House of Lords later this month. Despite the wide ranging evidence that was submitted to the Public Bill Committee from private practice solicitors, law centres, citizens advice bureaux and independent advice agencies across the UK, the Government has made only minimal changes to its original proposals to radically restrict access to legal aid.
It is not too late to register your concerns about these proposals. We urge everyone to visit: www.soundoffforjustice.org and sign up to the petition.
Thanks again to everyone for their support.
Coordinator for Who Will Stand Up For Our Rights? campaign