The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill is making its way through the House of Lords. A good summary of the immigration story so far is here.
Yesterday, the Bill was debated for a second time in Committee. Further debates are scheduled to take place on the 16th,18th and 24th of this month. After completion of Committee stage, the Bill should move on to Report and Third reading.
So far as immigration goes, there are a number of amendments that have been tabled by peers. These include, but are not limited to amendments to: remove proposed immigration judicial review exclusions from scope, provide funding for immigration onward appeals, and provide funding in immigration matters in family reunion cases, cases in which children are affected by immigration proceedings. Amendments have also been drafted to extend the provision of funding in domestic violence cases.
We’ve briefed on three areas that we think that there’s some hope for – extension of legal aid to refugee family reunion cases, widening of the scope of funding for domestic violence cases, and extension of legal aid to cases involving children.
We’ve also signed up to the the Law Society’s lobbying efforts and its briefings in support of: funding for onward appeals generally, the introduction of powers to ensure that areas can be added to the scope of funding but that no further areas can be taken away.
For anyone’s who’s particularly interested, you can track the legal aid debates here if you scroll down to the bottom of the page. And of course you can track the progress of the Bill up until its passage here. For more detailed parliamentary briefings and fact sheets on the full range of immigration legal aid issues, you should have a look at the website of the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association.
Also get involved through the 38 degrees campaign to email Lord McNally. Sound off for Justice, another campaigning coalition carries an excellent report showing the false economy the legal aid cuts really are.