05 OCT 2007
The Ministry of Justice came into being in 9 May 2007. 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 a 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.
In a statement to the judiciary issued on 9 May the Lord Chief Justice, said: '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.'