Reform on a shoestring budget will be the likely approach to the legal system under a future Labour government, according to the party's House of commons legal spokesman, Paul Boateng.
Improving access to justice will be a high political priority – but it is unlikely to figure strongly in the pecking order for increased spending, when pitched against areas of urgent need in the health service, education, and the nation's infrastructure, he warned.
“I don't believe there will be any new money for legal services, so we will have to look to other ways for generating revenue for this particular area,”
Speaking at the Law Society to the London Young Solicitors Group, Boateng said a Labour government would liaise with the Law Society, Bar Council and Legal Aid Board in looking at options to make current resources stretch further.
“We are committed to a policy of root and branch reform, including a fundamental reappraisal of the role of the Lord Chancellor and his department,” said Boateng.
A ministry of justice taking over some Home Office functions – “lifting the dead hand of the Home Office away from criminal justice policy” – is central to that reform, with Boateng as its first minister.
Coroners' courts and the police will stay with the Home Office, while all tribunals should come under the ministry, he said. The LCD had lost out in treasury funding battles because of its “not being a full department of state”.