Commons Vote: Labour MPs rebel against legal aid cuts

TONY BLAIR suffered a fresh rebuff from his party's left-wing last night when 21 Labour MPs rebelled against cuts in the legal aid system.

The rebellion was further evidence of the unrest in the party at the Prime Minister's alleged appeal to the middle classes at the expense of the core vote - a charge which Mr Blair vehemently denies.

The Commons revolt was led by barrister Robert Marshall-Andrews, the MP for Medway, with a demand to keep legal aid for the disabled and the poor in personal injury cases.

A rebel amendment was defeated by 291 votes to 173 during the report stage debate on the Access to Justice Bill.

Mr Marshall-Andrews said legal aid was a "core" part of the welfare state. The bill would deny it in personal injury cases to children under 18, mental patients, people with substantial disabilities and those receiving income support. "No matter how weak or disabled the plaintiff, no matter how serious the injury, no matter how powerful the wrong-doer, no matter how culpable or deliberate the wrong there will be no legal aid for these people," Mr Marshall-Andrews said.

The Bill removes the right to legal aid for most civil cases making conditional "no win, no fee" agreements with lawyers more common.

For the Tories, Nicholas Hawkins (Surrey Heath) said organisations including the Law Society, the Bar Council and the Child Poverty Action Group formed a "powerful coalition" in favour of keeping Legal Aid for vulnerable people.

But Lord Chancellor's Department minister Keith Vaz assured MPs: "All the groups that you have mentioned will be protected under the policies that we've put forward." Mr Vaz said he did not see any reason why those on income support should not benefit from the conditional fee agreements.

The amendment would extend legal aid to people with disabilities regardless of their means, which was not the current position and should not become the position. "I find it frankly insulting to assume that, simply because a person has a disability, he or she is somewhat less capable of running their own affairs and reaching an agreement with a solicitor than a person without a disability."

Nineteen Labour MPs voted for the amendment. They were: Tony Benn (Chesterfield); Harry Cohen (Leyton and Wanstead); Francis Cook (Stockton N); Jeremy Corbyn (Islington N); John Cryer (Hornchurch); Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow); Denzil Davies (Llanelli); Mark Fisher (Stoke Central); Alan Hurst (Braintree); Dr Lynne Jones (Birmingham, Selly Oak); Ken Livingstone (Brent E); John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington); Alice Mahon (Halifax); Jim Marshall (Leicester S); Robert Marshall-Andrews (Medway); William Michie (Sheffield Heeley); Dennis Skinner (Bolsover); Llew Smith (Blaenau Gwent); Audrey Wise (Preston). The tellers for the "ayes" were Labour rebels Kelvin Hopkins (Luton N) and Alan Simpson (Nottingham S).

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
video
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Amis: Taken to task over rash decisions and ill-judged statements
booksThe Zone of Interest just doesn't work, says James Runcie
Life and Style
life – it's not, says Rachel McKinnon
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Travel
travelFrom Notting Hill Carnival to Zombeavers at FrightFest
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Service Desk Analyst- Desktop Support, Helpdesk, ITIL

£20000 - £27000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Service Desk Engineer-(Support, ITIL, Software Vendor)

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Engineer-(Support, S...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel you sales role is li...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £45000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Key featuresA highly motivated ...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home