East Ham MP Stephen Timms quizzes Justice Minister over Legal Aid cuts
06:00 23 February 2012
East Ham Mp Stephen Timms has challenged the Government on the future of free legal advice in questions to the Secretary of State for Justice.
Mr Timms tackled Jonathan Djanogly, the Parliamentary Under-Sectary of State for Justice, asking him what assessment he had made for the availability of free legal advice.
The Minister side-stepped the issue and said that since legally aided lawyers are paid for by the taxpayer, it is important that we get value for money.
Mr Timms then pinned down Mr Djanogly about the excellent legal services provided by Community Links.
The East Hm MP asked him if he was aware that funding cuts will mean that the service will have to stop providing all welfare benefits advice next year, shortly before the massive upheaval that will follow the introduction of universal credit. Mr Timms ended by challenging Mr Djanogly, ‘is not that a recipe for disaster?’
Mr Djanogly was forced to agree that ‘that is indeed something that is on the horizon’ and could only make the weak assurance that the government were ‘looking to put in place transitional arrangements’ – but did not provide any details as to what these might be.