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Legal Aid

House of Lords written question – answered on 20th July 2011.

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Photo of Lord Lester of Herne Hill Lord Lester of Herne Hill Liberal Democrat

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the impact on the provision of free and reliable legal advice on immigration and refugee issues of the entry into administration of the Immigration Advisory Service, the winding up of Refugee and Migrant Justice, and the cuts in legal aid.

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

The position of both the Immigration and Asylum Service (IAS) and Refugee and Migrant Justice (RMJ) is not a direct consequence of the proposed legal aid reforms, not least because these reforms have yet to be implemented. The primary concern for the Government and the Legal Services Commission is to ensure clients of the IAS and RMJ continue to get the help they need.

These are only two providers in a much wider market and there is significant long term interest in this work from other providers, both not-for-profit organisations and private solicitor firms.

The LSC ran a tender round for new immigration and asylum contracts in October last year and there was an increase in the number of offices that applied to do the work and bids for more than double the amount of cases that were available. The LSC has already received 140 expressions of interest to take on this work.

All immigration and asylum providers will continue to be expected to meet the same high quality standards that are in place. These include compulsory accreditation schemes for all advisers and supervisors. We will seek to ensure that the interests of this vulnerable group are properly protected.

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