The Common Lord Chancellor

Gordon Brown has announced his Cabinet. In addition to moving or removing every Cabinet Minister except Des Browne at Defence (though he’s been given the Scotland portfolio as well), Brown without the “e” has chopped, changed, and renamed some departments.

This is not particularly uncommon with incoming Governments, though I have to wonder how quickly new premises can be secured, stationery and phone number changed, and civil servants shuttled around.  However, one thing has caught me quite by surprise and I’m not exactly sure how can even work constitutionally. I say that realising that Labour has heretofore defied just about anything else that would have otherwise seemed unconstitutional.

Though it hasn’t been mentioned in any news report that I have seen, I was looking at the official list of He Majesty’s Government on the Parliament website and discovered that Jack Straw is Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor.  I knew that prisons were being shifted into the same department as the courts and away from the Home Office. The Lord Chancellor is no longer the head of the judiciary under the Constitutional Reform Act 2005. He isn’t even speaker of the House of Lords anymore. But he’s still the Lord Chancellor.

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