Letter: Lord Chancellor as a commoner?

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Sir: Paul Boateng MP suggests (Letters, 23 June) that the way to reform the office of Lord Chancellor is to create a ministry of justice. Surely a more direct way is for the Lord Chancellor to be required to be a member of the House of Commons. This would enable the many responsibilities of this senior cabinet minister to be subject to the normal parliamentary scrutiny. Recalling that the Lord Chancellor is also responsible for public records, this could be seen as an important step towards open government and accountability.

There seems to be no overwhelming requirement for the Lord Chancellor to be a member of the House of Lords. For example, the great Thomas More was not a member.

Is it not the case that many modern Lord Chancellors, who were former MPs, have sat on the Woolsack for several weeks before being ennobled? This is possible, we are told, because the Woolsack is not part of the House of Lords. (It is for this reason that the Lord Chancellor takes a few paces sideways before he speaks in a Lords debate.)

To create a ministry of justice would require parliamentary time, which, even under a Labour government, may not be forthcoming due to other priorities. An advantage of the above suggestion over Mr Boateng's is that it could be implemented by a prime minister instantly.

Yours sincerely,



23 June