Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Committee (7th Day)

Part of Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill – in the House of Lords at 4:30 pm on 1st February 2012.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord McNally Lord McNally Deputy Leader of the House of Lords, The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice, Liberal Democrat Leader in the House of Lords 4:30 pm, 1st February 2012

My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Thomas, for his usual thorough presentation of these amendments and for sending me this opinion of learned counsel, which, as he rightly said, was delivered only 24 hours ago. Even though, as the noble Lord, Lord Bach, will know, the Ministry of Justice is one of the most efficient and speedy departments in Whitehall, the matter is still in the hands of my advisers, and I am sure that we will take it on board. In passing, I should say that I had to clear another piece of paper the other day about asking the advice of learned counsel, and I saw just how much it costs to ask for such advice, so I thank the noble Lord for such an expensive gift.

I was also interested in the confession of my noble friend Lord Lester about accepting success fees. As the debate has unfolded, it has occurred to me that this is indeed a money Bill, but perhaps not in House of Commons terms. Let me also deal with another canard or slur that has been put across the Chamber from the noble Lord, Lord Beecham: that the Aarhus convention is something new to the Government or to government Ministers. Perhaps I can draw his attention to the fact that on 19 October, we in the Ministry of Justice sent out a consultation paper, entitled Cost Protection for Litigants in Environmental Judicial Review Claims,with the specific aim of enabling the UK to implement its obligations under the Aarhus convention. Yet again, when the facts are known, it is clear that the Government are on the case, on the ball and moving forward, despite the attempts of the Opposition to say otherwise.