THE TORY leader, William Hague, maintained the pressure on the Government to back down over its legal aid reform plans last week when he harangued the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, for withdrawing legal aid from personal injury claims.
Hague spoke out against the Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine 's reform plans during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons.
During an exchange on disability living allowance, Hague called on Blair to “look again… at the plans for legal aid, which could prevent people who are seriously disabled in accidents from pursuing personal injury claims. Is not removing their entitlement the wrong way to reform legal aid?”
Blair retorted that disabled benefits had been cut while the Conservatives were in power, and that Hague was wrong about the effects of the Lord Chancellor's plans.
Last week The Lawyer reported how Geoff Hoon, Parliamentary Secretary at the Lord Chancellor's Department, took a roasting from MPs during an adjournment debate at the Commons – after which he hinted that legal aid may be retained to help poor people pay the premiums in conditional fee cases.
MPs attacked the lack of consultation with insurers and argued that personal injury cases cost the taxpayer little as the Legal Aid Board recovered most of its costs.