Yesterday was the last day in Committee (House of Lords) for the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill.
The Bill will now progress to Report stage (House of Lords) which is scheduled to start on 5 March 2012. It will then proceed to its third reading, and will subsequently be returned to the House of Commons for consideration of amendments made in the Lords. We previously highlighted some key concerns about the Bill which is due to receive royal assent later this year (but come into effect in April 2013.)
Your help now
The Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association who have been lobbying against the Bill have now put together a rather helpful draft template letter which you can use to help you write to your MP about legal aid for immigration work. The letter basically makes the case for immigration legal aid by highlighting the fact that that legal limitations on provision of immigration legal advice, together with the total exclusion of ‘exceptional funding’ for immigration cases (unlike other areas) have not yet received adequate consideration in the Parliamentary debates.
We would urge you to use the final available opportunities to campaign on this Bill. You can do this by writing to your MP about the proposed reforms and their implications. You can find out who your MP is, and write to them directly, on line here.