MPs back plans for law centres network

A BID by the Law Centres Federation to form a national network of law centres received an enthusiastic response from MPs at the House of Commons last Wednesday.

A parliamentary early day motion calling for a network of law centres across the UK had received 59 MPs' signatures at the time The Lawyer went to press. If 150 signatures are obtained the issue will be brought to the attention of the Cabinet.

Labour MPs Austin Mitchell and Hazel Blears, and Liberal Democrat MP John Burnett, spoke in favour of the plan at Wednesday's meeting, chaired by Labour MP Martin Linton.

The federation will meet this Wednesday with Geoff Hoon, Parliamentary Secretary at the Lord Chancellor's Department, to discuss the plan.

The Law Centres Federation hopes to add 100 Law Centres to the existing 52, providing a “safety net” of support for everyone across the UK. Federation chair Mahmud Quayum said the project could be funded by half a per cent of the annual legal aid budget, less than the amount underspent by the Legal Aid Board this year.

Quayum added he was “very confident” the calls would be heeded by the Government.