MPs call for rethink on legal aid limit

MPs have criticised government plans to change publicly funded
asylum work as “hurried and not obviously thought through”.

The House of Commons constitutional affairs select committee,
which published its report on the government’s plans last
week, has called for a rethink of the proposals that include
capping the legal aid for asylum seekers to just five hours.

The Department for Consti-tutional Affairs issued its
consultation document after legal aid costs for asylum seekers rose
from £81.3m in 2000-1 to £174.2m in 2002-3.

But the select committee warned that the proposals may not cut
costs and could compromise the quality of representation.

However, just before the committee’s report was published,
the government set out changes to asylum process, which the
committee says will have important implications for legal aid. The
home secretary also announced last week that up to 15,000
asylum-seeking families will be allowed to stay in the UK (news,
page 11, 30 October).

– Report from

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