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Committee (7th Day)

Part of Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill – in the House of Lords at 7:00 pm on 1st February 2012.

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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 7:00 pm, 1st February 2012

No, of course the Government cannot do that. There was one thing that I was interested in. I do not know this because it is always dangerous to think aloud at the Dispatch Box, but on the powerful case for aid for charity I do not see why wealthy solicitors' firms or wealthy solicitors could not make donations to that charity as long as there was no link with the search for work. It is worrying to have a charity that is dependent on making referral fees to certain solicitors. I am more comfortable with our banning referral fees.

In a way, the same applies to what has been said about trade unions. I fully accept the point made by the noble Lords, Lord Collins and Lord Martin, about the services that trade unions offer working people in this country. My father worked for 47 years for ICI and was a lifetime member of the National Union of General and Municipal Workers. When I hear attacks on health and safety, I know the importance of health and safety in industry, but that should not be linked to a relationship with a professional service organisation.