Grayling accused of ignoring expert views
Supreme Court President Lord Neuberger said in a lecture that cutting legal aid will deprive the people who most need the protection of the courts of the ability to get legal representation.
Confronted with the judge’s comments during a Justice Committee hearing, Mr Grayling said he would be surprised if Lord Neuberger thought the cutbacks were “a good thing”.
After reading the judge’s comments, Plaid Cymru MP Elfyn Llwyd said: “Have you no regard for experts in the field?”
Mr Grayling replied: “I would be surprised if the president of the Supreme Court was saying legal aid cutbacks are a good thing.
“It would be a surprise if the Lord Chancellor was saying legal aid cutbacks are a good thing – I’m not. What I’m saying is this unfortunately, given the nature of the public spending challenge we face and the fact that we have relatively the most expensive system of its kind in the world, means that it is inevitable that we will have to bring the costs down.”
Mr Grayling said in the past year the bill for legal aid has been £2bn.
Lord Neuberger had earlier said Ministers should be “very careful” about cutting down people’s right to seek judicial review. He said courts had “no more important function” than protecting citizens from the abuses and excesses of public authorities.