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Richard Burgon slams government over denial of legal aid to hostile environment victims

RICHARD BURGON lambasted the government today over its lack of legal aid for hostile environment victims.

The shadow justice secretary highlighted a 68 per cent fall in immigrants claiming advice, from 120,000 cases in 2010 to 39,000 this year.

Speaking during justice questions, he said: “The current Prime Minister unleashed the Home Office’s hostile environment against migrants, the Windrush scandal shows just how easily people can fall foul of this government’s complex and cruel immigration rules.

“It’s even tougher for those who have to navigate this hostile environment without legal advice.

“Does the government regret scrapping such publicly funded legal advice that can save people from unfair decisions and deportations and, if so ,will the government reinstate it?”

Tory Justice Minister Lucy Frazer, who is a barrister, was jeered after responding that Labour is to blame for the dwindling number of people claiming legal aid.

She told MPs said claims were falling not because of cutbacks but instead due to Labour suggesting "that it is not available."

Ms Frazer said that legal advice is available for asylum and for non-asylum, for detentions, domestic violence and trafficking.

She added: “Can I make clear to this House and to everyone who’s listening that often people are not claiming legal aid because they don’t believe they are entitled to it, because the party opposite and some others suggest that it is not available?”

However, according to the government’s own figures the Ministry of Justice had a budget of around £10.9 billion in 2010 to administer the courts, legal aid, prisons and probation service. For 2017-18, that budget was down to £7.6 billion.

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