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Libel fees cut runs out of time

Justice secretary Jack Straw's plans to reform libel law has lost out to opposition and the timetabl

The government wanted to use a statutory instrument -- a source of law that, as an amendment of previous legislation, does not require a parliamentary vote -- to reduce the bonuses available in defamation cases from 100 per cent to 10 per cent.

Justice secretary Jack Straw had argued that such a cut would make little difference to the big media players, but would help smaller newspapers that suffered from the current prevalence of "no win no fee" deals.

Following the blocking of the first attempt to push the reform through a delegated committee, opposition has necessitated a Commons vote on the change to amendment.

But the leader of the House of Commons Harriet Harman has told the Guardian there is no time for a vote before the end of Parliament, and that Straw's reform was "not going anywhere".