The former justice minister leading Labour’s review of the government’s legal aid reforms has criticised his own party’s offering in this year’s general election campaign.
Lord Bach (pictured) told a fringe meeting at the party’s annual conference yesterday that he was ‘disappointed’ by what Labour had to offer.
‘For me it was not enough and did not deal with the seriousness of the situation facing advice and social welfare law,’ Bach said.
‘Legal aid never really counted enough in Labour leadership circles. This may well have changed.’
Bach was referring to newly elected party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who announced last week that he had asked Bach to ‘immediately’ review the government’s reforms.
Bach said there were still some issues to be decided, such as the review’s scope.
The review, he revealed, would ‘definitely’ include criminal legal aid, civil legal aid ‘as it affects social welfare law’ and family law.
However, he hinted that its scope might be wider. ‘Should it include,’ he asked, ‘part two of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 [which deals with litigation fundings and costs]… or should it deal with other parts of civil law as well? This is up for grabs.’
The timing of the review, Bach said, was also undecided. With the next general election ‘a long way away' he said 'we should take advantage of the interest we now have at the top of the Labour party to develop a decent policy'.
Highlighting Corbyn’s former role as chair of the all-party parliamentary group on legal aid, Bach said the new party leader was ‘enthusiastic’ about the review.