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Legal Aid for Gypsies and Travellers

Volume 535: debated on Monday 14 November 2011

Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab): I am very pleased to present a petition that is strongly supported by my hon. Friend the Member for Hammersmith (Mr Slaughter). He wanted to present it, but I am doing it on his behalf and on behalf of the Community Law Partnership. The petition concerns the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill and complements a similar petition of 1,000 signatures that was delivered to the Prime Minister last week. We believe that the Bill is having a disastrous effect on the provision of advice and representation to Gypsies and Travellers on accommodation issues. The petition has my full support and has been signed by 25 members of the Community Law Partnership.

The petition states:

The Petition of the Community Law Partnership on behalf of Gypsies and Travellers,

Declares that the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, if brought into force, will have disastrous effects on the provision of advice and representation to Gypsies and Travellers on accommodation issues. Gypsies and Travellers are one of the most disadvantaged groups in the United Kingdom. The bill denies them access to the legal advice and assistance which is available to any other group. It is due to the failures of successive central and local Governments to ensure adequate site provision that some 25% of the Gypsy and Traveller population who live in caravans are on unauthorised encampments and unauthorised developments. This is through no fault of their own.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to ensure that Legal Aid in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill is available for Gypsies and Travellers to defend evictions from unauthorised encampments and to be advised and represented in the County Court and High Court planning matters.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.

[P000982]