David Evennett, MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford, raised the issue of legal aid expenditure on immigration cases during Justice Oral Questions in the House of Commons yesterday (23 November).
Mr Evennett asked Ministers about progress on the issue, commenting:
“I thank the Minister for his response. Can he confirm that, under the coalition Government’ s proposals, immigration cases will be taken out of the scope of legal aid?”
Jonathan Djonogly MP, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice, said “Yes I can confirm to my honourable friend that we are consulting on removing all immigration matters from the scope of legal aid, other than for those on immigration detention. That means removing matters such as varying leave to remain – for example, if a foreign student wants to change their visa to get permission to work instead or, indeed, to stay here for longer. Such cases will no longer be at taxpayers’ expense.”
Mr Evennett previously raised the issue of legal aid funding earlier this year. It was noted that EU countries like Spain and France spent £2.55 and £3.31 a head respectively, compared to a generous £38 per head in England and Wales.
The Government is looking at a radical and ambitious programme of reform and is currently seeking views on proposals through a consultation. The consultation began on 15 November and will run till 14 February 2011. If you would like to submit your views, it can be access here: Legal Aid Consultation