28/04/2013 The Wales Report


28/04/2013

Current affairs. There are warnings that changes to legal aid will deny thousands in Wales access to justice. Plus, the economy has grown - but is Wales feeling the effects?


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racing interval of access to justice under threat because of radical

:00:11.:00:15.

changes to legal aid? There was better news for the British economy

:00:15.:00:21.

this week. No triple-dip recession. But is the Welsh economy feeling the

:00:21.:00:27.

benefit? And would more ethnic diversity in public life combat

:00:27.:00:37.
:00:37.:00:42.

Wales Report, where we look at the issues of lives throughout Wales and

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question some of the decisions. Tonight we start with the right of

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every individual to access justice. The UK has one of the most expensive

:00:54.:01:01.

legal aid regimes in the world, �2 billion a year. Ministers believe

:01:01.:01:06.

that is not defensible when pressure on Government budgets is so intense.

:01:06.:01:10.

Legal aid is being removed from entire cases of civil law including

:01:10.:01:15.

some family cases in order to make cuts. Ministers insist it is right,

:01:15.:01:25.
:01:25.:01:31.

despite protests from senior Justice is supposed to be accessible

:01:31.:01:38.

to all, rich or poor. And in the past, each year, 25,000 people

:01:38.:01:42.

across Wales have used legal aid to help them pay for advice and

:01:42.:01:46.

lawyers. That huge cuts to the legal aid budget, which came into effect

:01:46.:01:53.

earlier this month, will change all that. Legal aid no longer applies to

:01:53.:01:59.

entire areas of civil law, including some family and medical negligence

:01:59.:02:03.

cases, and lawyers here in Wales are warning that could have serious

:02:03.:02:07.

consequences, not just for the legal profession but crucially for people

:02:07.:02:15.

who need financial help in accessing justice. People like the Weaver

:02:15.:02:20.

family from Bridgend. Emily Weaver is now 26. She was born with

:02:20.:02:26.

cerebral palsy but when she was two doctors failed to spot that a tube

:02:26.:02:30.

training fluid from her brain had blocked. The difference between

:02:31.:02:35.

Emily before and Emily after that happened was heartbreaking. After

:02:35.:02:39.

the incident, it was literally like bringing home some one who was

:02:39.:02:46.

lined, death and like a plank of wood. -- lined and death and like a

:02:46.:02:54.

plank of wood. Legal aid funded the family's medical negligence claim

:02:54.:03:02.

which gave the family equipment and help for the rest of her life.

:03:02.:03:10.

is now able to have everything she needs. She needs sensory equipment

:03:10.:03:16.

and sensory programmes. We were not able to give her any of that

:03:16.:03:22.

before. What would you have done without legal aid? I do not think we

:03:22.:03:28.

could have done anything. I do not think anyone could understand how

:03:28.:03:36.

traumatic being a parent and care of somebody like Emily is. Every day

:03:36.:03:42.

you are living a nightmare. So legally, coming along at that time

:03:42.:03:48.

am a was our saviour and Emily's saviour. Now the changes to legal

:03:48.:03:53.

aid in civil law are in place, next the UK governments want to reform

:03:53.:03:57.

legal aid and the criminal law. Barristers across Wales have said

:03:57.:04:03.

enough is enough. This week, the Wales and Chester circuit of

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barristers voted unanimously to strike at the UK Government's

:04:06.:04:12.

proposals. The justice system in Wales is in danger. The effect of

:04:12.:04:17.

these cuts to Wales in particular would be absolutely devastating.

:04:17.:04:22.

Freedom of choice will go. The provision of legal services in Wales

:04:22.:04:27.

will be very much reduced. People will be denied access to justice. We

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take this very seriously. This is not a hollow threat. This is a

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threat that the Government will see coming into force sooner rather than

:04:37.:04:40.

later. So in future, will more and more people without legal aid or

:04:41.:04:45.

money for a lawyer end up being forced to come to court themselves

:04:45.:04:51.

to argue their case? The bar Council certainly thinks so. They have even

:04:51.:04:55.

issued a new guide to representing yourself in court. It is full of

:04:55.:04:59.

handy hints and tips about what to bring to court, including key

:04:59.:05:05.

documents and highlighter pens. It even tells me to dress for success.

:05:05.:05:10.

And it does have quite a lot of information about the law in it, but

:05:10.:05:12.

what it cannot give anyone is a legal qualification or years of

:05:12.:05:22.

experience. For parents like John Weaver, the idea of DIY justice is a

:05:22.:05:27.

nonstarter. Could you possibly have represented yourself? It is hard

:05:27.:05:31.

work for any solicitor to represent us in a complex case like Emily's

:05:31.:05:38.

was. No way I could have done that. Fighting for Emily on a day-to-day

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basis is one thing. Standing in court and trying to do that is

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another. So without legal aid, without the solicitors that we used,

:05:47.:05:56.

we could not have had the result but we have got. In a statement, the UK

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jail and -- the UK Government's justice minister defended the

:06:00.:06:10.
:06:10.:06:20.

be a turbulent time for the legal system. There may well be short-term

:06:20.:06:24.

savings, but for a growing number of professional legal bodies and

:06:24.:06:29.

families like the weavers, the long-term effects will be nothing

:06:29.:06:36.

short of devastating. What do you think of the changes? In a word,

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unethical. At the very least I am very disappointed. At the most I am

:06:41.:06:49.

very angry. To attack the most vulnerable people in society, people

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who already have a great disadvantage...

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The controversy surrounding the cases was very much in evidence at

:07:05.:07:12.

yesterday's Welsh Conservative Party conference in Swansea. Andrew Taylor

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insisted on asking the Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, a

:07:15.:07:25.
:07:25.:07:25.

question after his speech. I would like to tell the Welsh people about

:07:25.:07:33.

the losses that are likely to come about as a result of his law

:07:33.:07:41.

reforms. We are having to take tough and difficult decisions and I know

:07:41.:07:44.

different to the Ministry of Justice are having to take tough and

:07:44.:07:49.

difficult decisions, so we are making changes to legal aid, to the

:07:49.:07:53.

way we read our prisons, in our courts to bring down costs. There is

:07:53.:07:59.

no option. The alternative is the Labour way which is to carry on

:07:59.:08:02.

spending the money the same way, pass on huge debts to our children

:08:02.:08:07.

and leave the country in the kind of crisis we are seeing in other parts

:08:07.:08:13.

of Europe, and I am not prepared to do that.

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You do not need to be a lip reader to see that Mr Taylor was not

:08:17.:08:22.

entirely convinced by that response. Joining me is a consultant solicitor

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advocate and a former member of the Law Society Council. The legal aid

:08:28.:08:32.

system is eye watering the expensive. It needs radical reform,

:08:32.:08:37.

and that is what you are getting. do not agree, nor do many other

:08:37.:08:42.

experts. If you go back to 1991, the last time a Government try to

:08:42.:08:46.

introduce price competitive tendering, it is what is going to

:08:46.:08:54.

affect solicitors and barristers, there were 1400 firms of solicitors.

:08:54.:08:59.

We are now down to far fewer than that and we are now going to be

:08:59.:09:04.

asked to reduce it in total to 400 firms of solicitors for the whole of

:09:05.:09:10.

England and the. And you more concerned about the impact on your

:09:10.:09:17.

profession than on people's ability to access justice? I think they go

:09:17.:09:21.

hand-in-hand. Access to Justice will be virtually impossible. Let's take

:09:21.:09:24.

two areas that are going to be badly affected. Industrial South Wales, as

:09:24.:09:31.

it was, is going to be one procurement area. There are 1.25

:09:31.:09:36.

million people living in that area. I suspect the number of firms

:09:36.:09:40.

servicing that area at the moment is somewhat over 40. It will come down

:09:40.:09:43.

to eight to cover all of those people and that whole area, and that

:09:43.:09:53.
:09:53.:09:56.

system is going to be applied equally to rural areas. In my area

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there are 515,000 people in an area that covers 4500 square miles. At

:10:03.:10:09.

present, probably something in the region of 22 or 23 firms that do a

:10:09.:10:13.

measure of criminal legal aid work. That will come down to four. And the

:10:13.:10:18.

worst of this is that the client will not have a choice. You will not

:10:18.:10:22.

go to the solicitor you have had before. What will happen is you will

:10:22.:10:28.

go on an automated system which is replacing the call centre, and they

:10:28.:10:34.

will allocate you a provider. But what they are going to do now is

:10:34.:10:38.

literally sweep the legs from under the system, because you are going to

:10:38.:10:43.

find a lot of firms going to the wall, giving up, and there will not

:10:43.:10:49.

be access to justice. But ministers would come back and say again those

:10:49.:10:55.

who need it will have access to it. This reform is about stripping it

:10:55.:11:01.

away from those who do not really need. I do not agree. Let's have a

:11:01.:11:05.

look at the barristers who very sensibly issued a guide to people to

:11:05.:11:11.

do their own cases. That will happen. There will not be solicitors

:11:11.:11:15.

available. A lot of people will have to represent themselves. I applaud

:11:15.:11:19.

the bar Council for issuing the guide they have but I have to point

:11:19.:11:22.

out that quite a number of my clients are not able to read will

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stop a number of them would be absolutely flummoxed if they were

:11:26.:11:31.

put before a court and told to present their own case. How can the

:11:31.:11:35.

Government have an adversarial system when you are in a situation

:11:35.:11:40.

where one of the adversarial is does not have the appropriate weapon? It

:11:40.:11:44.

is like putting a person into a gunfight with a banana against a man

:11:45.:11:51.

with a machine gun. When will we see the practical results of what you

:11:51.:11:54.

say will happen when these changes go through? -- if these changes go

:11:54.:12:01.

through? I am told that the changes will be implemented in Dover. A lot

:12:01.:12:05.

of the firms will say, we cannot do it. And I agree with Andrew,

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rubbish. So the UK economy has afforded a

:12:11.:12:16.

triple-dip recession after recording 0.3% growth in the first three

:12:16.:12:21.

months of the year, according to the Office for National Statistics. One

:12:21.:12:24.

minister David Cameron says that the economy is healing, but does that

:12:24.:12:33.

apply to Wales, to? Figures show the people in Wales have the second

:12:33.:12:39.

lowest disposable income in the UK. Of course there have been difficult

:12:39.:12:43.

decisions but in Wales there are 39,000 more people in work and there

:12:43.:12:50.

were at the time of the election. There are 30,000 fewer people on out

:12:50.:12:54.

of work benefits. So it is healing. It does take time. Getting the

:12:54.:12:59.

deficit down is difficult. What welfare changes are about is trying

:12:59.:13:04.

to make sure people have access to a job. The best way out of poverty is

:13:04.:13:09.

work. The Labour way of doing things where you park people on incapacity

:13:09.:13:13.

benefit and you leave them there, never doing anything to help them,

:13:13.:13:17.

is wrong. We are spending sometimes up to 14,000 on one individual to

:13:17.:13:23.

help them find work, so this is the right thing to do. Labour tried to

:13:23.:13:27.

prove the point that you can just heel problems with benefits. You

:13:27.:13:34.

cannot. The way is to help people by helping them get work. A very

:13:34.:13:40.

forthright message from David Cameron, speaking yesterday. Joining

:13:40.:13:43.

us is Gerald Holtham, economic adviser to the Welsh Government.

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With me in the studio, Emma Watkins, director of CBI country. Is the

:13:52.:13:57.

economy healing, as David Cameron says it is? It is pretty flat still.

:13:57.:14:01.

It is tough out there that we can see a light at the end of the

:14:01.:14:09.

tunnel. 0.3% growth or 0.3% down is marginalise away. Businesses are

:14:09.:14:14.

rolling up their sleeves and working hard, but we can see a chink of

:14:14.:14:19.

light. Healing or not? I do not know. There is a great mystery about

:14:19.:14:24.

this which is there has been some rise in employment and some decline

:14:24.:14:31.

in unemployment despite the fact there has been virtually no growth.

:14:31.:14:35.

The economy is still more than 2% lower than it was before the last

:14:35.:14:40.

recession five years ago. We are producing less output now than we

:14:40.:14:44.

were five or six years ago and yet, as he rightly says, employment has

:14:44.:14:51.

gone up. Nobody quite knows why. One factor certainly is that it is

:14:51.:14:54.

low-grade employment. There are more people working part-time, people

:14:54.:15:00.

taking worst jobs, graduates working in McDonald's, all that sort of

:15:00.:15:05.

thing, and wages are down. Inflation is running faster than wages so

:15:05.:15:11.

instead of taking people through unemployment we are taking them

:15:11.:15:15.

through lower pay. How long can that continue? If growth does not pick

:15:15.:15:20.

up, will this decline in earnings go on or will that start to be a rise

:15:20.:15:24.

in an employment which has not happened so far? What are your

:15:24.:15:33.

members telling you about what is needed to Mack -- what is needed?

:15:33.:15:42.

Businesses are not yet interesting. But there is one key thing and that

:15:42.:15:45.

is an investment in infrastructure from UK Government and Welsh

:15:45.:15:49.

Government. We need to see action. We need investment in big industrial

:15:49.:15:57.

projects. We talked about the need to improve the M4 relief road. We

:15:57.:16:01.

also need to see a used in the construction market. For every

:16:01.:16:05.

pounds you spend in construction you get �2 84 back. That is a big

:16:05.:16:11.

return. And in terms of employment and jobs. It is all about the

:16:11.:16:14.

infrastructure but about delivering on it. Is the Welsh Government doing

:16:14.:16:24.
:16:24.:16:28.

all it can to kick-start investment to Mack -- is the Government doing

:16:28.:16:38.
:16:38.:16:48.

all it can to kick-start There are certain things that have

:16:48.:16:55.

already been done but they would like to do more. What about the way

:16:55.:17:02.

businesses are prepared to invest in their own industry? Is there an

:17:02.:17:06.

incentive or even a disincentive that would force them to do more

:17:06.:17:12.

than they are doing? The Government could temper actually increase the

:17:12.:17:18.

business allowances it gives to businesses to invest. Maybe it

:17:18.:17:23.

could temporarily raised, not lower, but raised the rate of corporation

:17:23.:17:28.

tax. People will have horror as if you say that but if you temporarily

:17:28.:17:33.

raised ate and offset it with generous investment allowances.

:17:33.:17:39.

That would give businesses in a pincer where they would have the

:17:39.:17:45.

incentive to bring investments forward. Why would business need to

:17:45.:17:50.

that kind of Carrick on stick approach? What is the reluctance

:17:50.:17:57.

when everyone knows what the benefits of investing are? I think

:17:57.:18:04.

that was a very good point about incentivise Asian. It is about

:18:04.:18:08.

prescribing investment or incentivising it. It is a lack of

:18:08.:18:16.

confidence. The difficult thing is that many of the levers like beyond

:18:16.:18:23.

the Welsh or a UK Government. There is a lot of stuff out there that is

:18:23.:18:28.

about with our control. If Germany sneezes and we will catch the flu.

:18:28.:18:38.

The figures this week were helpful. You might increase that confidence.

:18:38.:18:41.

Are you really in the position where you want people to start

:18:41.:18:49.

spending more money. The latest figures short that disposable

:18:49.:18:53.

spending en Wales is the second lowest of any part of the United

:18:53.:18:58.

Kingdom. Really can we expect people to spend more money to kick-

:18:58.:19:06.

start the economy? The answer is No. Not only our household incomes not

:19:06.:19:11.

rising, they are being squeezed. People still have a hundred and 40%

:19:11.:19:17.

of their annual income in debt. The household sector got to indebted.

:19:17.:19:23.

It is saving more now but it has a long way to go. That is not going

:19:23.:19:28.

to be the engine that drives the recovery in the near term. I think

:19:28.:19:32.

that is why we need some infrastructure investment,

:19:32.:19:37.

something else, to move the economy forward. Thank you both very much.

:19:37.:19:42.

Tomorrow brings the publication of a report into historical child

:19:42.:19:52.

abuse in children's homes in North Wales. Running parallel with the

:19:52.:19:57.

inquiry is a separate investigation following claims the Waterhouse

:19:57.:20:07.
:20:07.:20:07.

Inquiry did not go far enough to uncover the truth. We can speak to

:20:07.:20:17.

our reporter who investigated this extensively in the 1990s. It is a

:20:17.:20:23.

sad story of historic child abuse in North Wales. Two reports will

:20:23.:20:28.

land on the desk of the Home Secretary and another will land on

:20:28.:20:33.

the desk of the chief constable. That will be the end of phase one

:20:33.:20:42.

of this report. The director general of the National crime

:20:42.:20:46.

agency has 27 very experienced police officers looking at how the

:20:46.:20:54.

police investigated it going back to the 70s and possibly the 60s.

:20:54.:20:58.

Most importantly they are listening to new allegations and we will hear

:20:58.:21:03.

tomorrow what that team has found. My understanding is that it is

:21:03.:21:09.

anything up to 150 people who have come forward. I understand a lot of

:21:10.:21:16.

new allegations are being made and the response will be to that. The

:21:16.:21:19.

chief constable will then have to decide whether or not to act on

:21:19.:21:29.

that report. Let us help viewers grew that a little more. There are

:21:29.:21:34.

two enquiries, I the overlapping each other? They do overlap but

:21:34.:21:39.

they are separate. One is looking at the police allegations. The

:21:40.:21:49.

other one is overseen by the High Court judge and they are looking

:21:49.:21:53.

into the Waterhouse inquiry which itself was a very long inquiry. It

:21:53.:21:59.

went on for three years, cost �30 million, took hundreds of witnesses

:21:59.:22:06.

and came to certain conclusions. It created some good things like the

:22:06.:22:10.

children's Commissioner for Wales. There were suggestions that perhaps

:22:10.:22:16.

it went outside children's homes in the private and public sector. The

:22:16.:22:20.

justice is looking at that aspect of it and they will be talking to

:22:20.:22:26.

one another otherwise there would not be much point. There is that

:22:26.:22:30.

you out there that what is going on is that the Waterhouse Inquiry is,

:22:30.:22:35.

in effect, being reopened. Not re- run but some of the questions are

:22:35.:22:41.

being asked again and new questions are being posed. Is that a fair

:22:41.:22:47.

summary? It is. It will take a long time. I spoke to the team this week

:22:47.:22:53.

and they were seeing the have a huge paper exercise. -- saying.

:22:53.:23:02.

They have to listen to what is new in addition to that. This programme

:23:02.:23:07.

made certain statements and brought things to their attention last

:23:07.:23:13.

November concerning the way that the privately run homes may have

:23:13.:23:18.

been concerned. I have given evidence do it so in a sense we are

:23:18.:23:22.

directly involved. Those are the sorts of things we will be

:23:22.:23:27.

listening to. At the moment, the timescale is open ended so we do

:23:27.:23:32.

not know when that is coming. us talk about culture, you mention

:23:32.:23:39.

it going back to the 70s and possibly 60s. How do you think the

:23:39.:23:48.

culture of listening and taking victims seriously has changed?

:23:48.:23:51.

Firstly at that time they were not believed, I am talking about young

:23:51.:23:57.

people who were trying to raise their voices and say that something

:23:57.:24:03.

was wrong. They were not being believed. Then the whistleblowers

:24:03.:24:07.

who tried to raise the subject on their behalf were not believed and

:24:07.:24:12.

then people like us who were trying to report were not believed. That

:24:12.:24:19.

is changing. The point of view now is that they have to be supported,

:24:19.:24:24.

now and if the process of law takes its place, there could be arrests.

:24:24.:24:30.

People could be brought to book, brought to justice. It does not

:24:30.:24:35.

mean to say they are guilty, they have a right to apply and that will

:24:35.:24:40.

take a long, long time. Everybody is now very anxious to make sure

:24:40.:24:44.

that these people who have had their lives destroyed in some cases

:24:44.:24:51.

are listened to and supported. That is where we go next. What can we

:24:51.:24:57.

expect to see in terms of action that is measurable? The chief

:24:57.:25:01.

constable will have no choice but to act on the recommendations of

:25:01.:25:11.
:25:11.:25:13.

what the Palace will officers have found. -- Palu Eyl inquiry officers.

:25:13.:25:18.

Minority communities make up 7% of the population of Wales yet some

:25:18.:25:28.

feel areas still work to be done to improve their part in Welsh life.

:25:28.:25:36.

The Welsh Government has told us it is serious about their equality. A

:25:36.:25:41.

barrister with Civitas has been sharing her experiences as a Welsh

:25:41.:25:49.

Muslim living in the capital. Here is Mona Bayoumi. Historically, the

:25:49.:25:54.

UK has been one of the most progressive countries in Europe

:25:54.:25:57.

introducing provisions to protect against discrimination from as

:25:57.:26:04.

early as the 1960s. However, prejudice is still rife in our

:26:04.:26:08.

communities with certain groups becoming increasingly marginalised

:26:08.:26:14.

and individuals suffering from hate crimes. As a Muslim living in Wales

:26:14.:26:20.

There are warnings that changes to legal aid will deny thousands of people in Wales access to justice. Plus, the economy has grown - but is Wales feeling the effects?


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