LawSoc tackles Govt on Immigration Bill

The Law Society has challenged the Government to publish any evaluation it has carried out on whether the Immigration and Asylum Bill is consistent with human rights legislation.

In a stinging report to the special standing committee hearing submissions on the Bill, the society says it believes it fails to meet basic human rights and equal opportunity standards and challenges the Government to say otherwise.

The submission says that replacing cash benefits with vouchers will stigmatise asylum seekers and that those who apply for judicial review and have their benefits withdrawn “may be forced to live on the streets or to beg or to work illegally”.

Karen Mackay, head of the legal aid and policy unit, says the extension of legal aid to cover representation as well as advice would pay for itself in increased efficiency. She and vice-president Kamlesh Bahl urged the Government to carry out a cost-benefit analysis of possible savings.

The Home Office rejected the society's call for openness, saying: “The Bill has been evaluated in the light of the European Convention on Human Rights.”