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 Bach Lord Bach Shadow Spokesperson (Justice) 7:15 pm, 12th March 2012

My Lords, I am very grateful to all noble Lords who spoke in this important debate, and not least to the Minister, who in his usual reasonable way explained the Government's position. I am afraid that I cannot accept the explanation. To save £20 million in order potentially to set back the system by many years and to cause difficulties for so many people is not a sensible saving of money.

The noble Lord, Lord Newton, talked about other expenditure the Government had found. He was too polite to say what I will say. My example is the £250 million the Government found to make fortnightly bin collections weekly. It is absurd to save £20 million here but spend £250 million there-such an absolutely wrong sense of priorities-that any satirist would have enormous fun writing a story about it. Jonathan Swift should be living at this hour.

I will simply ask the House to recall the comments of two of our most distinguished judges: the noble and learned Lord, Lord Woolf, and the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss. Their words a few minutes ago gave the lie to the argument that this was a sensible move by the Government. Almost all other noble Lords who spoke said that the measures were not worth taking and were wrong in themselves. I ask the House to ask the Government to think again. I beg to test the opinion of the House.