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09/05/2007

Farewell then… (Part 1 hopefully).

To the DCA, now part of the thoroughly Orwellian overtoned, or is that Pétain-ist Ministry of Justice (at justice.gov.uk, no less).

I don’t, in principle, object to the partition of the Home Office, but that was worryingly quick. Either the assorted departments were already so distinct that it was merely a matter of peeling back a couple of bits of sellotape, or there hasn’t been time to properly constitute the new Ministries. Ho hum, rushed and poorly thought through implementation of a not too bad idea, how familiar from this government.

[Edit, courtesy of The Magistrate’s Blog, comes the following, issued by the Lord Chief Justice. I knew the judges were seeking assurances on independence, but for this to be issued is rather bad, particularly the references to giving evidence to the Constitutional Affairs Committee – it looks like the Chief Justice is aiming to wield a big stick, speaking softly having failed.

The Ministry of Justice has come into being today. The judiciary consider that the creation of a new Ministry of Justice raises important issues of principle; these have been communicated repeatedly to the Lord Chancellor since January 2007 and are summarised in the judicial position paper of 29 March 2007. A working group composed of senior judges and senior Government officials has been meeting since 21 March 2007 to discuss the issues with the aim of putting in place constitutional safeguards to protect the independence of the judiciary and the proper administration of justice.

The up to date position was set out in evidence of Lord Justice Thomas and the President of the Queen’s Bench Division to the Constitution Committee of the House of Lords.

We have not yet reached agreement on a way forward. We will continue with our discussions with the Government in our attempt to resolve the important issues of principle that remain.

I have convened a special meeting of the Judges’ Council to discuss these issues on 15 May 2007 with representatives of all levels of the judiciary. I will also be giving evidence on this subject to the Constitutional Affairs Select Committee of the House of Commons on 22 May 2007 when I shall explain the judiciary’s position, and the stage we have reached in our discussions with the Government.

Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers,
Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales

end edit]

I’m not expecting anything different from the MoJ than the DCA in regards to funding Legal Aid, but in the confusion or jockeying for position of a brand spanking new Ministry (with a soon to be ex-minister?), it is unlikely such niceties as the Constitutional Affairs Committee demolition job of the proposals will get attention.

And tomorrow? The beginning of the end of Blair’s long goodbye?

Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts.

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