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THE Tories are more concerned with “constitutional vandalism” than fixing a justice system “at breaking point,” Labour said today as MPs criticised reforms to the judicial review process.
Justice Secretary Dominic Raab told MPs that the proposals make good on the Tory Party’s manifesto promise to ensure the judicial review process is not subject to abuse.
The government claims that measures in the Judicial Review and Courts Bill, which received its second reading in Parliament today, will “save court time and reduce delays, deliver swifter justice and support court recovery.”
But the Bill has prompted widespread criticism, including from the Tory backbenches.
Ahead of the debate, Tory MP David Davis vowed to rebel against the legislation, warning that they would “tip scales of law in favour of the powerful.”
Highlighting problems facing the justice system, including a huge case backlog and a crisis of confidence by women in the system, shadow justice secretary David Lammy questioned why the government was focusing efforts on judicial review changes.
“The members opposite might say that this was a manifesto commitment. But then again, so was not clobbering ordinary people with tax rises.
“What this Bill says about the government’s priorities is that it’s more concerned with constitutional vandalism than fixing the mess that it’s made of the justice system.”
The Labour MP also warned of a chilling effect created by the Bill. “As more people are left without the redress they deserve, many more will be put off bringing their own claims even if they’re perfectly valid,” he told MPs.
“As a result, unlawful decisions made by the government, any government of any colour, or strike or public body will go unchallenged. But perhaps this is what the government wants. We all know the ability of members of the public to challenge public bodies.”
SNP MP Joanna Cherry QC said: “Isn’t this really the reason for the attack on judicial review; this government has had a bloody nose repeatedly in the courts on employment tribunal fees, on asylum issues, on benefits, and in the prorogation case and they don’t like being held to account.”
Mr Raab claimed earlier that the reforms, which include the removal of Cart judicial reviews, used in immigration and human rights cases, will “free up further court time and space” and help address the backlog.
But civil liberties groups warn that the changes will result in vulnerable people who would otherwise have won their cases being deported or made homeless.
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