Report (3rd Day)

Part of Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill – in the House of Lords at 7:15 pm on 12th March 2012.

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Photo of Lord Wallace of Tankerness Lord Wallace of Tankerness Lords Spokesperson (Attorney General's Office), Lords Spokesperson (Wales Office), The Advocate-General for Scotland, Lords Spokesperson (Scotland Office) 7:15 pm, 12th March 2012

My Lords, we are not proposing to abandon the regime. As the noble Lord, Lord Bach, pointed out, immigration advice is tightly regulated by the OISC, to which complaints can be made.

Substantial savings are required. The change that we propose will save an estimated £20 million a year out of a total of £90 million spent in this sphere of law. It is important to show a balance; it is not just a case of taking immigration cases out of scope. Cases affecting some of the most vulnerable people will remain in scope. I do not for a moment doubt the motivations behind the amendment. However, I assure noble Lords that the matter has been given careful consideration. My noble friend Lord Boswell asked about complex law being kept under review. He will be aware that the power to add, within scope, that has been proposed for Clause 8 is a safety net that could be used if, in the light of experience, the somewhat apocalyptic scenario described by the noble Lord, Lord Bach, came to pass. Of course, there will be a post-implementation review after five years.

I hope that noble Lords will recognise that in a very difficult area we have sought to strike the right balance in cases that are particularly demanding and that particularly affect asylum seekers, such as cases of domestic violence and where people are being held in detention, and that we are addressing some of the most difficult cases in the immigration field. However, we had to draw the line somewhere. It could never be in the right place for all noble Lords. I can only assure them that it was done with some care and thought, and ask the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.