Government pauses on legal aid cuts
The Government has halted plans to ration the number of firms offering state-funded legal aid in Devon and Cornwall, which MPs had warned would undermine justice in rural areas.
The Ministry of Justice had wanted to issue ten contracts across the two counties, an area covering 40,000 square miles.
MPs in the region complained that small high street firms would face ruin under competitive tendering for the work, and that solicitors would struggle to cover all of Devon and Cornwall. But yesterday, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling announced, following consultation, that independent research would be commissioned to determine the number and size of duty solicitor contracts that would be awarded in regions.
Ministers want to save £220 million a year from the legal aid bill as part of wider reductions in public spending. In the House of Commons, Neil Parish, Conservative MP for Tiverton and Honiton, said: "Devon and Cornwall were going to be treated as one area for competitive tendering, but it was just too huge.
Buy one get one free on main course and specials excludes fillet steaks and beef Wellington
Must book to qualify 01209 860332 and present voucher on arrival
Mon- Thur 6-9pm
Contact: 01209 700617
Valid until: Saturday, December 21 2013
"Local companies and specialist companies in my constituency and area will get a chance to deal with the work, and I am happy that he can give us that reassurance."
Mr Grayling insisted the Government had entered a "genuine consultation and a genuine process of discussion".
He added: "I was impressed by comments made by his colleagues in similar constituencies, about our having to do more to try to address the issues in rural areas, and that was something I tried to take into account."