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Labour Party confirms commitment ‘to return all funding for early legal advice’

House of Commons debates future of legal aid

The Labour Party Shadow Justice Minister, Gloria De Piero, has confirmed that, if elected, the Labour Party will restore 'all funding for early legal advice'. She added that a Labour government would 're-establish early advice entitlements in the family courts' and review the legal aid means test.

Her statement came during a Westminster Hall debate, on 1 November, concerning the future of legal aid.

She noted:

"A particularly pernicious aspect of the Government's attacks on legal aid is the impact on victims of domestic violence. It is well known that abusers often use the legal system to continue their abuse. There are a number of issues with the Legal Aid Agency's assessment of women's financial eligibility for legal aid via the means test. Such tests too often result in women making unaffordable contributions, or even having to sell their home to pay legal fees."

Lucy Frazer, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice, reminded the House that the Ministry of Justice is looking at the impacts of LASPO. She said:

"My officials met more than 80 individuals and organisations from across the justice system to gather evidence, and they held two rounds of consultative group meetings with organisations, representatives and academics from across the justice system. At a third round of meetings, we will examine opportunities to consider further legal support. Officials will meet the Family Justice Council to discuss its concerns and recommendations in further detail, and are due to have a second meeting with the Civil Justice Council to explore its recommendations further."

Ms Frazer said that the department will respond at the end of the year to the results of the review.

For the debate, click here. For a House of Commons research briefing prepared in advance of the debate, click here.