The government is coming under increasing pressure from opposition parties to ensure it conducts a thorough review of controversial legal aid reforms.
An early day motion on the cuts introduced in 2013 under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act has attracted 68 signatures so far from MPs in the Labour, Liberal Democrats, Green, Plaid Cymru and Conservative parties.
Early day motions are formal motions submitted for debate in the House of Commons. Few are debated but they allow MPs to draw attention to a cause.
The legal aid motion's primary sponsor is Green Party MP Caroline Lucas. Co-sponsors are Labour MPs Karen Buck and Andy Slaughter, Liberal Democrat MP Ed Davey, Plaid Cymru MP Liz Saville Roberts and Conservative MP Peter Bottomley.
The motion states that the house is 'deeply concerned' by growing evidence, including reports by Amnesty International and the Law Society, that legal aid cuts since 2013 'have left thousands of the most disadvantaged in society, including children and people with learning disabilities, without the legal advice and support essential to access justice and equality before the law'.
MPs note that, in the first year after the act came into force, the number of cases in which legal aid was granted fell by 46%, from 925,000 to 497,000. The number of legal provides has fallen by 20%, from 2,991 to 2,393, resulting in advice 'deserts', especially in housing law.
The MPs share the Society's view that LASPO has 'severely undermined access to justice' and that this is resulting in escalating legal problems and knock-on costs elsewhere in the public sector.
The government is urged to ensure the review assesses the wider impact of LASPO on public services 'and to comment and conclude the review as a matter of urgency'.
Lord Bach, chair of the Bach Commission's report on access to justice, which was published last month, has called for cross-party consensus on the issue. Senior Conservative politicians, including solicitor-general Robert Buckland, have already indicated that they are ready to support a rethink on legal aid policy.