[Mr Adrian Bailey in the Chair] — Access to Justice: Vulnerable People

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:30 am on 19th January 2016.

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Photo of Stephen Kinnock Stephen Kinnock Labour, Aberavon 9:30 am, 19th January 2016

I thank my hon. Friend for her intervention. I agree entirely with every word of it, and with the sentiment. Members clearly have a deep and active interest in this issue, but we could never claim to be experts at the same level as the judiciary whom she just cited. We must defer to those views. If the most eminent experts in the world are telling us that the system is seriously flawed and the new legislation is deeply damaging, surely we must take heed of their interventions.

Nothing we see from the Government addresses what is increasingly being recognised as a two-nation justice system—and this from the party that claims to be a one-nation party. How we treat the most vulnerable is a key barometer of the kind of society we are and aspire to be, particularly when it relates to that most fundamental of rights: equality before the law. The increase in court fees, alongside reduced access to legal aid, restricts access to justice. Unless the Government change course, they will fail on the first duty of any Government: the just maintenance of law and order.