Legal Aid Bill Sees Two More Defeats In The Lords Over Access For Children

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LEGAL AID BILL DEFEAT
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The government has been defeated a further two times on its Legal Aid Bill in the House of Lords - bringing the number of amendments made by peers against ministers' wishes to 11.

Ken Clarke's Legal Aid Bill has now seen more defeats than any other piece of coalition legislation, raising the prospect of the Bill having to be carried over into the next session of parliament.

Both amendments concerned ensuring children retained access to legal aid, particularly in cases of clinical negligence. They were passed by peers with narrow majorities of 12 and 13.

Many of the other amendments to the Legal Aid Bill made by peers have been by much bigger margins, and have often been inflicted on Ken Clarke by former Tory ministers in the Major government.

One in particular called for victims of domestic violence to retain their current access to legal aid. The coalition wants to restrict their "time-to-claim" to a year.

The Bill now faces a period of Parliamentary ping-pong, where the Commons and the Lords cannot agree on the final text of the Bill.

Parliament will sit for only another 25 days before the Queens' Speech in May.

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