Hansard Ping-Pong debate in HoC 17.04.12.doc
JustRights - LASPO Ping-Pong briefing on Children for Lords April 2012.doc
The amendment we won in the Lords protecting all civil legal aid cases for children under the age of 18 was unfortunately overturned by the Government in the Commons on Tuesday, without even a hint from Ministers of any new concessions. This is obviously extremely disappointing. Only two Lib Dem MPs voted against the Government – John Leech and Mike Hancock – even though it is the party’s current youth policy to improve young people’s access to legal advice.
As part of the ‘Ping Pong’ process, the Bill now returns to the House of Lords on Monday. Ministers have controversially invoked ‘financial privilege’ to try to prevent Lords from reinstating the amendment. However, we understand that the Peers who tabled the previous amendment in the Lords are nevertheless preparing to table a similar amendment for Monday. We have also heard that Ken Clarke has invited some of the peers for a meeting on Monday. This means there are still hopes of squeezing further concessions out of the Government, although they have not been terribly generous hitherto.
After Monday, if we have managed to win a new vote in the Lords, the Bill will return to the Commons on Thursday and may Ping Pong more than once that day between the two Houses of Parliament. Indeed, we understand that the Government is hoping to complete the passage of the Bill on Thursday. If we are still 'in the game’ by then, the Government will be under some pressure to make concessions to ensure the Bill gets through.
We drew some consolation this week from some excellent contributions in the Commons debate from MPs – the opposition front-bench relied almost entirely on our briefings and referred to our amendment as “the most open-and-shut case of all”, whilst other MPs also referred to our evidence and briefings. Please find attached key extracts from Hansard.
We also gained a lot of media coverage for our campaign in the last week, being featured in the following, amongst others:
Law Society Gazette
lots of education and parenting websites around the world
and even in the Iranian state press !!!
Assuming a new amendment is tabled by Peers for debate on Monday, we will once again need any help you can give to persuade Peers to turn up and vote for it. Please find attached our latest briefing for Peers.
James, Mandy & Kate