Join our LinkedIn Legal Aid sub-group The government suffered three more House of Lords defeats to its plans to cut legal aid last night, setting the scene for a further tussle in the Commons today. The parliamentary ping pong follows 11 defeats initially inflicted by peers on the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of offenders bill, the majority of which were reversed by MPs last week. The bill seeks cuts in the scope of and eligibility for legal aid to save £350m a year. Encouraging peers to ‘listen to the clear and settled view of the House of Commons’, justice minister Lord McNally said last night, ‘in a time of austerity, we must make responsible choices about spending public money. We must be rigorous in our decisions about allocating resources’. But peers said that MPs had spent a total of only five hours last week debating the contested amendments, and Labour’s Lord Howarth of Newport noted that the first four amendments had been dealt with in just 26 minutes. Peers voted by 233 to 247 in favour of a change tabled by barrister and crossbencher Lord Pannick to restore a duty on the Lord Chancellor to ensure individuals have access to legal services that effectively meet their needs. The government suffered a second defeat, by 239 to 236, on a vote called by Labour’s former attorney general Lady Scotland to extend the eligibility of victims of domestic violence to public funding to pursue civil actions against abusive partners. The government defeated votes to reinstate changes that would have retained face-to-face advice rather than impose a mandatory telephone gateway to those seeking civil legal aid; retained funding for welfare benefits cases; and retained legal aid for clinical negligence cases involving children. On part 2 of the bill, which seeks to remove recoverability of success fees and after the event insurance premiums from losing defendants, the government’s fortunes were mixed. The Lords voted by 214 to 205 to send back to the Commons an amendment to exempt respiratory disease from the bill. Crossbencher Lord Alton, who tabled the amendment, told the House that peers should treat respiratory disease case differently to whiplash claims and urged the government not to play ‘Russian roulette with the lives of people who have a terminal illness’. But attempts to widen the scope of the exemption, to include all industrial disease claims, were comfortably defeated by 220 votes to 174. The bill returns to the Commons today, where the ping pong will continue as the government seeks to get the bill passed before the end of the parliamentary session.
See also:Rennes want to keep Chelsea youngster BogaSwansea pair doubtful for Chelsea gameBlues youngsters to play as Terry and others are ruled outSwansea v Chelsea: five key battlesChelsea beat Man City to retain FA Youth Cup Follow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebook Holders Chelsea saw off Blackburn to reach the final of the FA Youth Cup for the fifth consecutive season.Dujon Sterling, Jacob Maddox and Tammy Abraham (pictured) scored as the Blues stormed to a 3-1 second-leg victory at Stamford Bridge, winning the semi-final 4-1 on aggregate. The tie was as good as over by half-time after the hosts scored three times in a one-sided first half. Lewis Mansell netted for Rovers in the second half.AdChoices广告Sterling fired in the opener after being set up by Mukhtar Ali, and two goals in four minutes then put Chelsea firmly in control.Maddox rounded the keeper to score after being put through by Sterling, before Mason Mount laid on the third for striker Abraham.Mansell reduced the deficit with a header but there was no way back for Blackburn.Chelsea will now face Manchester City over two legs in a repeat of last season’s final. They will be away in the first leg.