The government has suffered another defeat in the House of Lords on its Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, bringing the total number of defeats on the legislation to six.
Peers voted by 178 votes to 172 during the second day of report stage scrutiny on 7 March 2012 to provide legal aid to pay for expert reports in clinical negligence cases.
Lord Lloyd of Berwick, a retired law lord, put forward the proposal, arguing that it would in fact save the government money.
He said that even on ministers' own figures his plan would save more than £6m a year, while he believed the actual figure would be more than £10m.
But Lord Wallace of Tankerness, replying for the government, disputed the crossbench peer's figures.
He said ministers had already introduced amendments to deal with cases where the "most expensive reports" were needed.
Lord Lloyd was not satisfied with the minister's response, and forced a vote, which he won with a majority of six.
Peers later rejected a bid by crossbencher and former Paralympic athlete Baroness Grey-Thompson to bring all - not just some - aspects of clinical negligence cases back within the scope of legal aid.
Lady Grey-Thompson claimed solicitors would be forced to "cherry-pick only the most obvious cases of negligence" if the bill was allowed to go ahead unamended.
But peers rejected her proposal by 175 votes to 168, a government majority of seven.
members voted to protect legal advice for benefit claimants when they seek to challenge cuts to their welfare payments and when they appeal to a higher court against verdicts.
The bill enacts the government's plans to reform the legal aid system; changes ministers say will save £350m by 2015.
The legislation has faced fierce opposition in the Lords, with some members arguing it will penalise vulnerable people.