Report (3rd Day)

Part of Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill – in the House of Lords at 10:15 pm on 12th March 2012.

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Photo of Lord Thomas of Gresford Lord Thomas of Gresford Liberal Democrat 10:15 pm, 12th March 2012

My Lords, one of the comforting sayings at the Bar, which I have found over 50 years to be absolutely true, is that when one door shuts another opens. It seems to me that, if he has heard of that saying north of the border, the noble and learned Lord will be aware that he has set out in his reply the basis of innumerable applications for judicial review of the decisions made by the director of legal aid services. It is impossible for there not to be a challenge to the statement made by the noble and learned Lord because almost anything can be brought within the ECHR rules, generally speaking, if you really try. We have heard reference to Articles 2, 6, 7, 8 and 14 tonight, which gives us five articles to play with.

I can assure the noble and learned Lord that the legal profession will look forward to testing his description and the ambit of the clause for a considerable period-case after case. It would be so much simpler if a broad discretion were given to the director of legal aid services, coupled with guidance that we could look at, in order that there would be some ambit to it. If the formulation of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay, which was found to be so seductive last time, were adopted with guidance, that could prevent an awful lot of future litigation. With that very pleasant prospect in mind, I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment 93 withdrawn.

Amendments 93A to 97 not moved.

Clause 10 : Qualifying for civil legal aid

Amendment 98

Moved by Lord Wallace of Tankerness

98: Clause 10, page 7, line 29, leave out from "which" to "could" and insert "more than one form of civil legal service"