Tory MP urges Government to re-examine changes to legal aid in family issues

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The Tory chairman of the Commons Justice Committee has called on the Government to look again at its changes to legal aid in family matters as Labour MPs claimed "cuts" had cost the courts more money.

Tory Bob Neill (Bromley and Chislehurst) argued early legal advice was a "gateway into mediation for assisted parties" and reduced the burden of litigants in person in the courts.

Speaking during Commons Justice questions, Mr Neill said: "When changes to legal aid in family matters were made it was anticipated that there would be a considerable growth in the use of mediation.

"In fact, mediation has dropped massively. All the evidence indicates that that is because early legal advice is a gateway into mediation for assisted parties and reduces the burden of litigants in person in the courts.

"Isn't it time the minister looked again at that issue?"

Justice minister Dominic Raab said the Government had launched a "thorough" review of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act's operation which would report by the summer recess.

He added: "The LASPO review will be an opportunity to look at all of this in the round, but I don't think the answer is exclusively going to be around money, it's also going to be the positive incentives that we put in place."

Tory Alex Chalk (Cheltenham) said: "We must be one nation too with access to justice for people from all backgrounds" adding that the "most careful thought should be given in the post LASPO review to bolstering legal aid resources so we can have early advice and assistance for all?"

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