Labour is to present the findings of its legal aid review at next year’s party conference, solicitors were told last night.
The review, which is being led by former justice minister Lord Bach, will cover areas of law including criminal legal aid, family and social welfare.
Bach told a ’legal aid summit’ at the House of Commons that the party was setting up a commission to hear and take evidence on the impact of the government’s reforms.
A draft report will be published in April. A final report will be presented to the Labour party conference 2016, which is being held in Liverpool.
Shadow solicitor general Karl Turner said he was not in a position to reveal the names of people he had invited to serve on the commission, but said that three ‘big-hitters’ have already agreed to be involved.
Criminal solicitors and the criminal bar would be represented, he said.
Lord Bach told the summit the party did not offer ‘as much as we should have’ on legal aid prior to this year’s general election.
In a sign of the political importance the party attaches to the issue, the summit was attended by opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn (pictured), shadow justice secretary Lord Falconer and shadow chancellor of the exchequer, John McDonnell.
Corbyn, whose grandfather was a solicitor in London, told the summit he believed ‘very, very strongly’ in legal aid and the right to access to justice ‘for everyone’.
Corbyn, who sat on the justice committee between May 2011 and March 2015, said the review would feed into the party’s policy-making process.
McDonnell, who sat on the justice committee between November 2013 and March 2015, said the government’s reforms had created a ‘false economy’ and the issue would be raised in discussions around the government’s comprehensive spending review, which is being published on 25 November.