Written 6th May 2013 by Olliers Solicitors

Two years ago, Prime Minister David Cameron set out principles for underpinning the reform and modernisation of public services in a speech he gave on 11th July, 2011.

Olliers would like to thank Guy Gozem QC, of Lincoln House Chambers, for circulating the speech in full; a small section of which I have copied below, regarding the issue of choice in public services. The current proposals to deny a suspect access to the solicitor of his choice are in direct conflict with the stated aims of Government with particular reference to freedom of choice.

Extract from David Cameron’s Speech

“First, the principle of choice. Wherever possible we are increasing choice by giving people direct control over the services they use. Why? First because it’s a good in itself. You wouldn’t pay for a gym membership and then get told you’re only allowed to use the running machine or only allowed to come in on a Tuesday…and neither should you pay your taxes then get told you’ve got to take what you’re given.

“I know what some people say: ‘I don’t care about choice – I just want a decent school at the end of my road.’ I understand. And if I could write a government cheque to guarantee that, I would. But here’s the thing – government can’t just make good schools appear. You can’t just pass an edict for standards to improve. You need the right structures in place. And this is where choice is so vital.

“When you have the power to choose where your child goes to school……and that choice is backed up by state money……schools will start bending over backwards to give you what you want: better discipline, more sports, after-school clubs. That’s how standards rise in public services – when you get the structures right. And this isn’t some theory – the evidence is already there.

“A study published by the London School of Economics found hospitals in areas with more choice had lower death rates. So right across our public services we’re extending choice. Giving patients the freedom to choose the healthcare they want, where they want. Giving social housing tenants more choice about where they live.

For the first time ever we are looking at how we can enshrine a general right to choose in law.”

For the full speech, please visit Guy Gozem’s blog post on ‘Choice and Government Policy’: http://guygozemqc.wordpress.com/2013/05/06/choice

Matthew Claughton

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