Kenneth Clarke delays criminalising squatting for 6 months
tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Mon Dec 5 23:03:27 GMT 2011
The sinister logic behind criminalising squatting
A change in law over trespass not only signals a
disregard for the homeless, it has implications on the right to protest
The decision to criminalise squatting
overwhelmingly contradicts the responses
collected during the consultation period. The
Ministry of Justice received 2,217 responses from
individuals and organisations, of which 2,126
were from "members of the public concerned about
the impact of criminalisation". This also
included 1,990 responses that were submitted by
Squash (Squatters' Action for Secure Homes).
There were only 25 responses from "members of the
public concerned about the harm squatting can cause".
Kenneth Clarke delays £350m legal aid cuts
No explanation was given for decision to postpone
reforms opposed by senior judges and social welfare organisations
Owen Bowcott, legal affairs correspondent -
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 1 December 2011 19.23 GMT
Kenneth Clarke's plans to slice £350m out of the
annual legal aid budget appear to be losing
momentum after the justice secretary unexpectedly
announced a six-month delay to the programme.
The decision to postpone reforms was blamed on
the need to reschedule legal contracts although
it also comes as the reforms encounter fierce
opposition in the Lords and strong criticism from
senior judges and social welfare organisations.
Abolition of the Legal Services Commission and
introduction of a mandatory "telephone gateway",
through which claimants will have to obtain civil
legal aid advice, have also been put back to
April 2013. The Ministry of Justice said it would
still meet its savings targets next year by
funding any shortfall from cuts elsewhere within
the department's budget.Opponents claimed the
impact of the proposals had not been clearly thought through.
In a written ministerial statement, Clarke told
the Commons merely: "We intend, subject to
parliamentary approval of the legal aid,
sentencing and punishment of offenders bill, to
implement all of the legal aid reforms in April
2013. This will include the abolition of the
Legal Services Commission under the bill and the
creation of the new agency in its place." The
previous deadline was October 2012.
The bill goes to the committee stage in the House
of Lords on 20 December. At its second reading in
the chamber last month, more than 50 of the 56
peers who spoke criticised the bill. Most
objected to the removal of legal aid from cases
relating to debt, welfare, housing, medical
negligence, employment and immigration. Not all
victims of domestic violence will be entitled to
help under the proposals, opponents claim.
This week Lord Wilson, the newest appointment to
the supreme court, and Sir Nicholas Wall,
president of the family division, publicly joined
those urging the government to rethink its
proposals, branding them a false economy and an impediment to swift justice.
Labour's shadow justice secretary, Sadiq Khan,
said the delay did not inspire confidence: "This
six-month stay of execution due to government
incompetence will do little to reassure the
millions of people who rely of social welfare
legal aid to gain access to justice.
"Rather than delaying the implementation of their
disastrous reforms to social welfare legal aid,
which supports some of the most vulnerable people
in our society, this government should abandon them completely."
The Law Centres Federation has challenged Clarke
over comments he made about the motivation of
lawyers opposing legal aid. In an interview with
the International Bar Association, Clarke said
there was an "army of lawyers advancing behind a
line of women and children, saying of course they
are not concerned about the income of the
profession; their only concern is for these
vulnerable clients who will be adversely affected
if they are not paid at the rate they currently are".
Julie Bishop, director of the Law Centres
Federation, said: "We are outraged by Mr Clarke's
remarks. How can a career politician accuse Law
Centre staff of being disingenuous when every day
they are working with people in crisis to pick up
the pieces of their lives when no one else has been there for them?
"The average salary of a law centre lawyer is
less than £30,000. People work in law centres out
of commitment to their communities, not to
feather their own nests." She proposed that he
spend a day in a law centre in his Nottingham
constituency and "donate the difference between
his salary and a law centre lawyer's daily pay to a local children's charity".
Lord Bach, Labour's spokesman in the Lords said:
"This bill will not really save any money. Other
departments will have to pick up the cost. It's
ridiculous at this stage to be changing when it will be implemented."
Peter Lodder QC, chairman of the Bar Council
which represents barristers, welcomed the
postponements of both civil legal aid cuts and
price-based competition on criminal legal aid.
He hoped it would be an "opportunity for the
government to reflect further on the wisdom of
what is proposed in the light of all the
representations which have been made to both
houses of parliament and the views of parliamentarians themselves".
A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: "The
government is committed to providing a legal aid
scheme which targets resources at people who need
legal support the most, and on the most serious cases.
"We are committed to ensuring lawyers compete for
legal aid work, so that the taxpayer receives
better value for money. This will ensure a more
efficient, cost effective and sustainable legal aid scheme for the future.
"New contracts to provide civil and family advice
will be offered to lawyers in April 2013, which
will give them sufficient time to consider the
final details of the new legal aid scheme which
parliament is expected to agree in spring 2012.
"Once lawyers have adjusted to the new scheme and
other regulatory changes, we will consult in
autumn 2013 on introducing competition for
criminal defence work, with a view to extending
it to civil and family work at a later date."
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"Capitalism is institutionalised bribery."
"The maintenance of secrets acts like a psychic
poison which alienates the possessor from the community" Carl Jung
Fear not therefore: for there is nothing covered
that shall not be revealed; and nothing hid that
shall not be made known. What I tell you in
darkness, that speak ye in the light and what ye
hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. Matthew 10:26-27
Die Pride and Envie; Flesh, take the poor's advice.
Covetousnesse be gon: Come, Truth and Love arise.
Patience take the Crown; throw Anger out of dores:
Cast out Hypocrisie and Lust, which follows whores:
Then England sit in rest; Thy sorrows will have end;
Thy Sons will live in peace, and each will be a friend.
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