Author Archives: Jonathan Featonby

Opinion:The Ministry of Justice’s latest reforms to legal aid will cut access to justice, not the deficit

Scales of Justice - Some rights reserved by CitizensheepTuesday 9 April 2013 was Be Kind to Lawyers Day – it was also the day that the Ministry of Justice launched its consultation on proposals to further reform the legal aid system in England and Wales. The proposals will affect both civil and criminal legal aid and, while the changes to criminal legal aid have attracted some media coverage, the changes to civil legal aid have received scant attention.

The civil legal aid changes fall into two categories and they represent a fundamental shift in the relationship between the state and those who are affected by its actions. Firstly, there will be a residence test which will require individuals to be in the UK at the time of the claim and to have been “lawfully resident” for at least 12 months.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 8 Comments

Opinion: Time for Lib Dems to change the debate on welfare

autumn statementOn Friday evening, a page entitled “We’re interested in your views about the fairness of our benefit reforms” popped up on the Conservative party website. It invited people to comment on the decision announced in the Autumn Statement that the Coalition want to limit increases in most welfare benefits by 1% for the next three years.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 11 Comments

Opinion: Hammond is misguided if he wants to raise the speed limit

So it seems that the media have cottoned on to the fact that the Government is considering increasing the motorway speed limit to 80mph, up from the current 70mph.

If they had been paying attention, they would have realised that this isn’t exactly breaking news. Back in June this year, Mike Penning, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, said that the Department for Transport were looking at the impacts of increasing the speed limit. In response to an Oral Question from Stephen Mosley, he said that:

“The existing limit has been in place since the ’60s. We will weigh

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 44 Comments

Opinion: A hurting Lib Dem and the stagnant economy

For the first time since his election as leader of the Labour party, I found myself agreeing with Ed Miliband during Prime Minister’s Questions this week.

With his new Shadow Chancellor sat next to him and in response to the news earlier in the week that the economy had contracted by 0.5% during the final quarter of 2010, Miliband urged David Cameron to think again over the upcoming spending cuts and VAT rise.

To make matters worse for the Coalition, the outgoing director-general of the CBI accused the government of putting politics before growth. Sir Richard Lambert argued that “politics …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 126 Comments

Opinion: Lords avoid falling into Labour’s “elephant trap” – just

The Parliamentary Voting System and Constituency Bill advanced to its second reading in the House of Lords earlier this month after narrowly avoiding a referral motion tabled by Labour peer Lord Falconer.

Lord Falconer had argued that the bill was hybrid as it treated two existing parliamentary seats – Orkney and the Western Isles – as special cases that would have been exempt from the constituency boundary redrawing element of the bill.

The motion was defeated by 224 votes to 210, allowing the second reading of the bill to take place.

But there needs to be a closer look as to …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 13 Comments

Opinion: Why the Government’s social housing reforms are flawed

The Coalition announced its plans for the reform of social housing on Monday and Andrew Stunell – our man inside the Department for Communities and Local Government – summarised the main points and the reasoning behind them here on Lib Dem Voice.

These plans, especially when coupled with the previously announced changes to housing benefit, are sure to spark a great deal of debate on these pages and we’ve already seen this happening in response to Stunell’s article.

At first glance, the main idea behind the reforms is admirable – to make social housing fairer. Most people are aware of …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 10 Comments

Opinion: could Universal Jurisdiction be the next test for Coalition unity?

Foreign Secretary William Hague apparently pledged on Thursday to alter Britain’s law on universal jurisdiction – a move which could again bring up the question of Liberal Democrat MPs voting against Government motions.

According to an Israeli Embassy official, Hague told Benjamin Netanyahu that the coalition will be moving as fast as it can to amend the universal jurisdiction law, with the aim being that a draft amendment will be put before parliament in the coming months.

The move comes on the back of Israel’s postponement of all strategic dialogue with Britain as a protest against the current law.

Israeli objection to the …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 19 Comments
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