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The Law and Government Spending Cuts

45 minutes
First broadcast:
Wednesday 19 October 2011

In the first of a new series, Clive Anderson and guests discuss how the courts are increasingly being used to try to prevent government and local authorities from implementing spending cuts.

Clive is joined by former Justice Secretary Lord Falconer, human rights lawyer, Hugh Southey QC, former appeal court Judge, Sir Stephen Sedley and solicitor Louise Whitfield, who specialises in representing clients fighting spending cuts.

They discuss how human rights and equalities law can be used to stop government or local authorities from cutting back on such things as disability benefits, libraries, advice centres, national parks and school building.

While acknowledging that the courts have a legitimate role in ensuring that public bodies fulfil their legal obligations, he admits that he and his government colleagues were often more than a little peeved at being prevented from doing the things they wanted to do.

But how likely is it that challenges to spending cuts will be successful? Will such legal action simply delay the implementation of the cuts or force reductions in other services? And are the courts being drawn into the political arena, effectively threatening the sovereignty of parliament?

Producer: Brian King
An Above The Title production for BBC Radio 4.


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