As was widely predicted, the coalition have overturned a House of Lords amendment to the Legal Aid bill which would have reinstated legal aid for welfare benefits issues. Equally unsurprisingly, they have used the ‘​financial privilege’​ convention to prevent the Lords reinstating the amendment.

The Lords amendment was overturned in the Commons by a majority of 288 to 246 votes.

However, the government has introduced a new amendment which will allow legal aid to be provided where a claimant is appealing to the upper tribunal or beyond. There will also be legal aid in the rare circumstances where an appeal to the first tier tribunal is based on a point of law rather than a dispute about facts or medical evidence.

However, it may be extremely difficult to distinguish between appeals based on facts and those based on legal issues and many appeals may include both.

The Bill will now return to the Lords to be considered once again, although the coalition is anxious for it to complete its passage before the end of this session of parliament.

You can read the Commons debate here


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