Law Soc in Govt row over asylum seekers

The Law Society is embroiled in a high level policy row over the Government's refusal to provide legal advice to asylum seekers at the controversial accommodation centres it plans to build.
The accommodation centre proposals are part of Home Secretary David Blunkett's Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Bill, which was published at Easter.
The bill, which has its second reading this week, does not include facilities for legal advice in the proposed centres.
The centres will be funded by the Home Office and the bill has proposed that they will provide educational services for children of asylum seekers. But the Government is not willing to provide legal advice at the centres because state-funded legal facilities are the responsibility of the Legal Services Commission rather than the Home Office.
The Law Society has sent briefings to more than 100 MPs urging them to help it lobby the Government to include legal advice in the facilities offered by the centres.
It has gained the support of Conservative shadow immigration secretary Humphrey Malins and Labour MP Neil Gerrard.
“Access to good quality legal advice and representation throughout the asylum process is essential to ensure that justice and due process are provided in practice,” a Law Society spokesperson said.
“We also believe that early access to legal advice and representation will improve the quality, speed and integrity of the process as a whole.”