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By Hugh Logue, Newswatch Editor
The Bar Council has written to Peers to voice its concerns around the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, which is scheduled to receive its Second Reading in the House of Lords later today.
Hours before the debate, the Bar Council will address the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Legal and Constitutional Affairs, which is meeting to consider the Bill. The meeting will be chaired by Lord Hunt of Wirral and will be addressed by Stephen Cobb QC, Chairman of the Family Law Bar Association and of the Bar Council's working group on the Bill.
Peter Lodder QC, Chairman of the Bar Council, said: "Despite the warnings of the Bar Council and other concerned organisations, the House of Commons has done little to change the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill.
"In the Lords, we will maintain our campaign to highlight the devastating effect that this Bill will have. A key example is the removal of private family law cases, almost in their entirety, from the scope of legal aid.
"The House of Lords has an important constitutional duty as a revising chamber. We hope that Peers on all sides will persuade the Government to recognise the real consequences of these drastic proposals, so that a realistic Bill can be returned to the Commons. The public interest and the interests of justice demand no less."