Kenneth Clarke delays criminalising squatting for 6 months

Tony Gosling tony at
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 -, 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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"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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