15 July 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Law Centre closures show legal aid cuts have gone too far
  • Lib Dems: Honouring Turing ‘a painful reminder’
  • US trade deal delay more evidence of Brexit false promises
  • Home Office accused of deliberately lying to deport slavery victims

Law Centre closures show legal aid cuts have gone too far

Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Jonathan Marks QC has called on the Conservative Government to reverse £500 million of legal aid cuts, as new figures showing that the number of legal advice centres has halved since 2014.

The figures, reported by the Guardian today, show that the number of Law Centres in England and Wales has fallen from 94 in 2013-14 to 47 in 2019-20. This follows a £930 million real-terms reduction in legal aid spending from £2.55 billion in 2010-11 to £1.62 billion in 2017-18 (all in 2017-18 prices).

At the party’s Spring Conference in March, the Liberal Democrats adopted a new policy of restoring Legal Aid for early legal advice, assistance and representation in benefit, debt, employment, immigration, housing and family law cases.

Responding to the figures, Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Jonathan Marks said:

Access to legal advice is now essentially non-existent in many parts of the country. Far too many people are forced to represent themselves in court. As always, it is the vulnerable who are hit hardest.

The Government’s cuts to legal aid have clearly gone much too far. When the reforms were passed in 2012, the Ministry of Justice expected savings of £450 million, but the legal aid budget has actually been slashed by £930 million.

The Liberal Democrats demand better. The Government must reverse those extra £500 million of cuts to ensure that legal aid is available to those who need it.

Only with a properly-funded, simpler and fairer legal aid system can we ensure that everyone’s rights are protected under the law.

Lib Dems: Honouring Turing ‘a painful reminder’

Today, Liberal Democrats have celebrated the announcement that computer pioneer and code-breaker Alan Turing will feature on the new design of the Bank of England’s £50 note.

It was the campaign by the Liberal Democrats, led by John Leech, the former MP for Manchester Withington, which eventually led to Alan Turing’s posthumous pardon.

Following the announcement, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

Alan Turing made an immeasurable contribution to our country.

Not only is he the father of modern computing, but the work that was done at Bletchley Park in cracking the German Enigma Machine saved countless lives in bringing the war to an end.

He was for an important period of time also a resident in my Twickenham constituency when he worked at the National Physical Laboratory at Teddington.

Today’s announcement is monumental in recognising the invaluable work he did. It is also an important reminder of a part of our history where prejudice and blatant bigotry were enshrined in law.

In honouring him today, we must also remember that bigotry and discrimination leads to a terrible waste of talent for society as a whole.

Welcoming today’s news, Turing pardon architect John Leech said:

It is almost impossible to put into words the difference that Alan Turing made to society, but perhaps the most poignant example is that his work is estimated to have shortened the war by four years and saved up to 21 million lives.

I’m absolutely delighted that Turing will be the face of the new £50 note and I hope it will go some way to acknowledging his unprecedented contribution to society and science.

But more importantly I hope it will serve as a stark and rightfully painful reminder of what we lost in Turing, and what we risk when we allow that kind of hateful ideology to win.

US trade deal delay more evidence of Brexit false promises

Responding to the reports that Liam Fox has admitted that a post-Brexit trade arrangement with the US may take longer to agree than previously hoped, Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake said:

Fox’s comments underline the scale of the inaccuracies spouted by the Leave campaign. Boris Johnson and the Tories had promised us that the UK would have a host of trade deals in place by Brexit day. We won’t.

This should also serve as a reminder that the EU will always be the natural and easiest trading partner for the UK – as shown by the bureaucratic difficulties linked to settling individual agreements with each US state. The Leave campaign claimed leaving the EU would make trade easier, but now it emerges that this was also untrue.

The Liberal Democrats believe that prioritising trade with the EU, rather than a US led by an erratic US President determined to lower our standards, is the only way to safeguard our economy and jobs going forward.

Home Office accused of deliberately lying to deport slavery victims

Responding to reports that the Home Office lied in order to deport victims of human trafficking and modern slavery to other EU countries, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said:

These allegations are so shocking that they’d be unbelievable if they were about anyone other than the Home Office.

The idea that officials have been deliberately lying in order to unlawfully deport victims of trafficking and modern slavery is sickening. There must be a full and independent investigation of these allegations immediately, and any victims must be returned to the UK.

This is yet more evidence that the Home Office is not fit for purpose. The Liberal Democrats will strip it of its powers over immigration and asylum and set up a new, arms-length body to process applications fairly and lawfully.

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