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Here's a section on the Ministry of Justice as it has an impact (and because it's a mess and caused a row - all of which could help improve answers in the exam).

1. BBC Q and A
2. Daily Mail 24 May 07

Judges on the point of revolt

3 -6 The Times 23 - 24 May 07
3. Lord Chancellor acts to heal rift with judges over justice ministry

4. Inept handling is at the root of unnecessary shambles

5. Talks break down over judges’ fears at Justice Ministry

6. Department in the Dock The painful birth of the Ministry of Justice

7 -8 BBC 22 -23 May 07
7. Ministry decision shocked judges
8. Judges fail to back new ministry

1. Q&A
WHAT IS THE MINISTRY OF JUSTICE?
A new Whitehall department which, from today, will oversee all courts and judiciary in England and Wales – currently run by the Department for Constitutional Affairs – but will also take over the Prison Service and Probation Services from the Home Office.
WHY IS THE CHANGE BEING MADE?
Ministers claim that bringing the court, prisons and probation systems under one roof will produce a "stronger focus" on justice and efforts to cut re- offending. The slimmed- down Home Office will supposedly be able to take a stronger role in tackling terrorism.
WHY ARE JUDGES SO UNHAPPY?
They fear their independence will be undermined. The courts face a financial squeeze, they claim, as they will have to share a budget with the cash-strapped and chronically overcrowded prisons. That could lead to pressure on judges to pass what they see as lenient sentences and send fewer criminals to jail, guided either by new sentencing rules or more subtle, behind-the-scenes influence. Judges want the courts’ budget – currently £1.7billion compared to £2.8billion for prisons and probation – to be ringfenced. They also fear conflicts of interest, pointing out that the Secretary of State for Justice Lord Falconer will oversee the judges who will have to hear cases against him when he faces legal challenges over prison issues and policy.
IS THE REFORM BEING PUSHED THROUGH?
After years of kicking the idea around Westminster, ministers announced the shake-up with just six weeks’ notice. MPs have had no chance to debate it and there was no prior consultation with judges, even with the Lord Chief Justice Lord Phillips, head of the judiciary. Lord Falconer made clear the reform would go ahead despite their objections. Critics believe the rush is due to Tony Blair’s desperation to claim the reform as part of his legacy when he announces his retirement this week.
WHO SPEAKS UP FOR THE JUDGES IN GOVERNMENT?
Until 2003 it was the Lord Chancellor, who was both a Cabinet minister and head of the judiciary. The Government effectively scrapped that time-honoured position, although the name remains. The Lord Chief Justice is now head of the judiciary – currently Lord Phillips. The new Secretary of State for Justice will not speak up on judges’ behalf in Cabinet or in Government, although he has a duty to "safeguard their independence2. When the job passes to an MP, as is expected within months, it could be taken on by a non-lawyer with no knowledge of judges and their concerns.

2 Judges on the point of revolt

By JAMES CHAPMAN -Last updated at 23:51pm on 22nd May 2007 DAILY MAIL
Senior judges sent Britain to the edge of a constitutional crisis last night by refusing to back the new Justice Ministry.
In an unprecedented move, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Phillips, said it had proved impossible to agree the judiciary's relationship with it.
He also told astonished MPs that he only learned of the most fundamental constitutional reform for decades from a Sunday newspaper.
He said he was nearing the point of invoking his right to report to Parliament that the Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, was failing to protect the independence of the judges.
That so-called "nuclear option" has never been used. It would plunge Britain into deep constitutional turmoil, as well as leaving Lord Falconer's position untenable.
Government officials had been locked in talks ahead of Lord Phillips' appearance before a Commons committee last night.
A deal had been expected but the Lord Chief Justice told them that had proved impossible.
He demanded a full-scale inquiry into the constitutional implications of the rushed Government decision to split the Home Office on May 9.
The judges fear their independence will be compromised as the Lord Chancellor, who heads the new ministry, has taken responsibility for prisons and probation as well as courts.
There is particular concern that judges will be pressed to pass sentences based on factors such as prison overcrowding.
They are also demanding that court budgets are not used to fill funding gaps in the prison and probation services.
Lord Phillips told the Commons constitutional affairs select committee: "The discussions have not resulted in agreement.
"There is a need to have a fundamental review in light of the creation of the Ministry of Justice.
"I hope common sense will prevail and it will become quite apparent that we must have this inquiry."
Asked about making an emergency complaint to the Speaker that the independence of judges was being compromised, Lord Phillips said: "We may well be getting near that point.
"I have up until this moment had a good relationship with the Lord Chancellor. He and I learned together that there was a possibility of a new Ministry of Justice when we read the Sunday Telegraph."
Lord Phillips told MPs: "We've tried very hard to reach an interim agreement to tide over the period that will elapse before a review, and any implementation of it can take effect."
But the Lord Chancellor did not agree there was a need for a review. "This has become a fundamental difference between us," he said.
Lord Phillips accused Home Secretary John Reid of being behind the split of the Home Office without any proper consideration of their impact on the justice system.
"The impetus of this position was anxiety on his part to clear the decks so that he could make a concerted attack on terrorism," he said.
"It was not a decision taken because it was thought that it was a very good idea to have a Ministry of Justice."
The Tories said the Government was to blame for drawing up major reforms "on the back of a fag packet" and forcing them through before Tony Blair leaves office.

3. From The Times May 24, 2007

Lord Chancellor acts to heal rift with judges over justice ministry

Frances Gibb, Legal Editor
The Lord Chancellor moved to defuse the unprecedented rift with the judiciary yesterday, making a personal intervention with the Lord Chief Justice to resolve the deadlock over the Ministry of Justice.
Lord Falconer of Thoroton, who was repeatedly castigated on Tuesday by MPs for failing to secure judges’ backing for the new ministry, spoke twice on the telephone with Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, Britain’s most senior judge.
The Lord Chancellor is expected to agree to one of the judges’ key demands, that an inquiry should be held into the right model for the Ministry of Justice and into how the budget of the courts can be protected. He was urge repeatedly by MPs at the Constitutional Affairs Committee to take control of the negotiations being handled by his department to reach a deal with the judges.
Lord Phillips had told MPs in written evidence that the judges had known about the new ministry only when they read an article by the Home Secretary in The Sunday Telegraph. He also said that judges had regularly felt sidelined over crucial decisions. He said that under the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, which made him, rather than the Lord Chancellor, the head of the judiciary, the views of the judges “should always have been taken into account by the Lord Chancellor”. “They were not,” he added. “We were sidelined. Decisions were taken without our participation and we were then told what was proposed.”
Examples included plans for court closures; the development of the court estate; and lack of consultation or transparent decision-making in relation to the disposal of a £34 million surplus earned on civil justice court fees, he said.The Lord Chancellor was no longer one in the “traditional and historic role of that office” who stood up for the rule of law when needs be; but a minister whose primary concern would now be the “very real problem of the prisons”. The Lord Chancellor’s officials insisted that talks to secure judges’ backing for the new ministry were continuing. The judges are calling for an inquiry into the right model for a ministry of justice that they support in principle.
The judges are concerned that the Courts Service, an executive agency, should not just be controlled by the Lord Chancellor, but also accountable to the Lord Chief Justice. They also want its budget to be ring-fenced so that it is not eroded by pressures on the Prison Service; and for judges to have a say in how the money is spent.
After the Constitutional Reform Act, there should have been a “sea-change” in attitude to the role of the Lord Chief Justice on court resources, Lord Phillips says. But he says that the Lord Chancellor continued to act as if he retained primary responsibility for the administration of justice.
Lord Falconer’s officials rejected the view that talks with the senior judges had all but collapsed and said that they were hopeful of agreement “soon”. A spokesman said: “Talks continue; they have not broken down and we continue to talk with the Lord Chief Justice. There is no crisis.”
Court action
Jan 21 Sunday newspapers break story of plans to split Home Office
Jan 21-30 Informal talks between Lord Chief Justice and Lord Chancellor
March 9 Working party between judges and Lord Chancellor’s officials set
March 28 Lord Chief Justice learns, at a legal dinner, that new ministry tol be announced the next day
May 9 Ministry takes effect without agreement
May 22 Senior judges tell MPs they want a thorough review of how it could work



4. From The Times
May 24, 2007

Inept handling is at the root of unnecessary shambles


Peter Riddell: Political Briefing
Senior judges are sensitive flowers. They are apt to shout “judicial independence” whenever their equanimity is disturbed, whether it is a gust of wind or a tornado. This risks their protests being disregarded or dismissed as special pleading.
At one level, the stalemate between the senior judges and Lord Falconer of Thoroton, the Lord Chancellor, over the new Ministry of Justice is about the funding of the courts service. But the anger of the judges is about much more than money.
The Government is itself largely at fault for the typically inept way that the changes have been implemented. We have been here before, four years ago, when the abolition of the post of Lord Chancellor was suddenly announced. The aims were correct and overdue: separating the conflicting executive, legislative and judicial roles, while establishing a Supreme Court and an independent Judicial Appointments Commission. After a lot of huffing and puffing, the judiciary secured a belt-and-braces guarantee of their independence.
The new ministry, bringing courts, legal aid, prisons and probation together, has been introduced in a similarly crass manner. The changes were bounced through by John Reid, the outgoing Home Secretary, who demanded a terrorism and security department as an urgent priority, and persuaded Tony Blair, against the opposition of the Whitehall establishment. Gordon Brown and the Treasury were acquiescent, although no reason was given for it to happen now, before the change of prime minister.
At one level, the judges fear that the insatiable demands of the prison service will squeeze the money available for the courts, although in the past there have been transfers of money from capital building on courts to legal aid. So the judges have wanted the courts budget independently set and ring-fenced.
The judges argue that the new ministry is not just a machinery of government change but could produce serious conflicts of interest. There could be pressures on the judges either to cut sentences or not to send people to jail. The judiciary point to Ireland, the Netherlands and Denmark, where court administration is autonomous, with more judicial participation.
The underlying dilemma was noted by Lord Justice Thomas: “It is the duty of the executive to provide the necessary prison places or funding for community sentences to give effect to the decisions of the courts. The minister in charge of penal policy [now the Lord Chancellor] must as a matter of law implement the decisions of the courts and find the resources to do so.”
The impasse could mean that the Lord Chief Justice has to resort to writing to Parliament to protest that the Lord Chancellor is breaching his statutory duty to protect the administration of justice. If he could not command the confidence of the judiciary, he could hardly stay in office. We are still well short of that, or the riots over the Chief Justice in Pakistan. As Lord Holme of Cheltenham, chairman of the Lords Constitution Committee, said: “The Lord Chancellor and his officials should be locked in a room with the senior judiciary until they mutually agree appropriate safeguards.” This is yet another case of the Government blundering into unnecessary confrontation.



5. From The Times
May 23, 2007

Talks break down over judges’ fears at Justice Ministry

Frances Gibb, Legal Editor

A constitutional clash between judges and the Lord Chancellor erupted last night after the near collapse of talks over the Ministry of Justice.
The Lord Chief Justice, Britain’s most senior judge, announced that the judges had failed to secure the safeguards they say are crucial to protect the independence of the courts.
Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers gave warning that the judiciary was “getting close” to deploying their “nuclear option” – their ultimate sanction of going to Parliament to state that Lord Falconer of Thoroton, the Lord Chancellor, was in breach of his statutory duty to protect the administration of justice.
In a highly charged session before the Constitutional Affairs Select Committee, Lord Phillips said: “We may well be getting near that point.” He told MPs that the judges and the Lord Chancellor’s officials had failed at the last minute to reach a deal on “interim working arrangements” under the new ministry, pending a long-term solution.
The sticking point, he added, was that Lord Falconer had refused to agree to the setting up of an inquiry into how the courts service could be protected under the new ministry.
He said that it was not going to be possible to reach agreement within the parameters for the talks set down in advance by the Lord Chancellor.
Lord Phillips, who outlined the judges’ concerns with Lord Justice Thomas, the Court of Appeal judge leading the negotiations for the judiciary, added: “We have now reached the firm view that there is a need to have a fundamental review of the position in light of the creation of the Ministry of Justice.”
Judges fear that the new ministry, which places prisons and the probation service under the same department as courts and legal aid, will see prisons made a priority at the expense of resources for the courts system. They say that the courts’ budget will be eroded by the demand-led prison service and that scarce resources for the courts will be plundered. The ministry, about which judges first heard through a newspaper article in January by John Reid, the Home Secretary, took effect on May 9, even though the judges had asked that their concerns be met before it came into being.
The Lord Chancellor, giving evidence immediately after Lord Phillips, insisted that agreement could be reached and that was what he would work to. But, Lord Falconer said, there was no need to agree an inquiry at this stage; the ministry had first to be given a year or so to settle down. There was no “constitutional crisis”, he added.
But Alan Beith, MP, chairman of the committee, said that he would not let the matter rest and that the Lord Chancellor would have to give way.
“I have been in Parliament for 34 years and I don’t think I have ever seen such clear anger and concern on the part of the senior judiciary.”
Lord Phillips accused Mr Reid of being the driving force behind the reforms without considering their impact on the justice system.
Keith Vaz, a committee member, said that the Lord Chief Justice’s comments amounted to unprecedented criticism of ministers by the judiciary.


6. From The Times
May 24, 2007

Department in the Dock

The painful birth of the Ministry of Justice



Judges are not noted for plain speaking. The blunt language of the Lord Chief Justice in his remarks to the Commons Constitutional Affairs Committee is therefore a clear sign not only of the anger in the judiciary at the way that the new Ministry of Justice has been brought into being but also the widespread resentment that the Government has, in the view of Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, repeatedly “sidelined” the judges’ views over crucial decisions. The confrontation is serious. Whatever the emollient assurances by the Lord Chancellor that agreement is close and there is no crisis, the two side are, as the judges insist, “poles apart”. There is even talk of the “nuclear option” of formally stating to Parliament that Lord Falconer of Thoroton is in breach of his statutory duties. There could hardly be a worse start for the new ministry.
On one issue the judges are clearly right. They are concerned that, with the incorporation of the prison and probation services into the Ministry of Justice, the budget will be swallowed up by the pressing need to build more jails. This, they fear, will eat into the money that should be set aside for the proper running of the courts and the effective administration of justice. Worse still, they fear that the minister will be strongly tempted to put pressure on judges to “go easy” on prison sentences so as to keep the numbers down. These are real concerns that must be addressed. The judges want the court budget to be ring-fenced, an idea that is generally anathema to the Treasury. But it should be perfectly possible for the ministry to make clear the extent of judicial spending in its annual application to the Treasury. And the Lord Chief Justice ought to be robust enough to give short shrift to any minister attempting to influence sentencing policy for budgetary reasons.
This is not the only complaint, however. Lord Phillips also implies that the new ministry will somehow encroach on judicial independence because it will inevitably be preoccupied by prisons, offender management and criminal justice policy. The minister, Lord Phillips said, would be increasingly distant from the historic role of Lord Chancellor and might be a politician with no personal knowledge of the court system or passion for the rule of law. This smacks of old-fashioned trade union thinking as well as wounded judicial amour-propre. What he is saying is that the judiciary will no longer have its own captive Cabinet minister to represent its interests and that the judiciary’s views may not be paramount. Already, he complains, recent reforms have been pushed through without the “sea change” he expected that would have given the Lord Chief Justice an equal say in the running of the courts.
Clearly, any effective system of justice must be based on the intimate and respectful cooperation between the judiciary and the executive. Clearly also, the division of the Home Office was pushed through too quickly without sufficient consultation. Judicial independence must be zealously guarded and ministers should pay due regard to judges’ constitutional weight. But the politicians should ensure that there is an end to the corrosive and creeping Europeanisation of British law. While the judges are concerned about their status, we should all be worried about the status of the British legal system.

7. Ministry decision shocked judges
Jon Silverman
Legal affairs analyst

Senior judges have refused to back government plans to set up the new Ministry of Justice, in a row which has a history.

Rows of this magnitude between the judges and government do not usually emerge from a clear blue sky.
And this one is no exception.
The storm clouds began to form in 2003 when, as part of a ministerial re-shuffle, it was announced that the ancient post of Lord Chancellor was being abolished.
The then Lord Chief Justice, Lord Woolf, was quick to express his dismay that a move of such constitutional significance had been taken without any consultation.
For the judiciary, the office of Lord Chancellor provided a dual role. It was a guarantee of their independence from both parliament and executive.
And it gave the judges an influential voice in Cabinet at a time when justice has become increasingly politicised.
Judges' alarm
Although the judges could not prevent the old Lord Chancellor's department morphing into the Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA), and the creation of HM Courts Service as an executive agency, they were partially reassured by the Constitutional Reform Act 2005.
This for the first time, put in writing a duty on ministers to uphold the independence of the judiciary.
But the new arrangements had hardly bedded in before the Home Secretary, John Reid, began canvassing support for the break-up of the Home Office and the creation of a Ministry of Justice, bringing both administration of the penal system and that of the courts under one roof.
Now, the judges were truly alarmed at the implications.


If the judges feel that their constitutional independence is to be made inviolate, then a thorny problem can be prevented from becoming a crisis
Jon Silverman
Even at this point, though, there were many who felt that a Ministry of Justice could be headed off.
Last summer, the permanent secretary at the DCA, Alex Allan, was dismissing the idea that it was going to be established and into the early months of 2007, the arguments against the new ministry appeared at least as persuasive as those in favour.
Thus, the decision, when it was announced, was a shock. Even more so was the speed of the change. And, for the judiciary, this was the straw which has come close to breaking the camel's back.


It's disgraceful that it's been done in such haste
John Spencer
Law professor
John Spencer, Professor of Law at Selwyn College, Cambridge, said he was fully behind the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Phillips.
"There are some sound arguments in favour of a Ministry of Justice but this is too important to be the subject of a back of a beer mat arrangement cobbled together at No. 10 in the early hours of the morning," he said.
"It's disgraceful that it's been done in such haste." The judges want assurances that, as part of the Ministry of Justice, they will not have their arms twisted by ministers over sentencing at a time of record prison numbers.

They saw it as an ill omen that, on the very day that the new ministry came into being, Lord Falconer was stressing the need for more use of community punishments.
But although attempts to bridge the gap between government and judiciary have so far failed, there may be a glimmer of light on the horizon.
Despite Lord Falconer's strong objection to the idea of a written constitution, Prime Minister-designate Gordon Brown is making favourable noises about some kind of bill of rights.
If the judges feel that their constitutional independence is to be made inviolate, then a thorny problem can be prevented from becoming a crisis.
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/uk/6686009.stm

Published: 2007/05/23 22:51:02 GMT

© BBC MMVII

8. Judges fail to back new ministry
Senior judges have refused to back government plans to set up the new Ministry of Justice, it has emerged.
The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Phillips, told MPs it had proved impossible to reach a deal with ministers.
The judges fear their independence will be compromised as the Lord Chancellor takes responsibility for prisons and probation as well as courts.
However, the Lord Chancellor said judges and ministers were "extremely close" to reaching an agreement.
When asked by an all-party constitutional affairs select committee if ministers had a "constitutional crisis", he replied: "No, we have not. The point that has been reached is that parties are extremely close to an agreement.
"The discussions, as I understand it, still continue."

Pressure
The government says it will push ahead with splitting of the Home Office in two - creating a new Ministry of Justice (MoJ) - even if it cannot get backing from senior judges.


This represents a very serious constitutional problem, and a situation which requires prime ministerial intervention, whether by Tony Blair or Gordon Brown
Oliver Heald
Shadow Constitutional Affairs Secretary
Senior judges fear the new ministry, which took on responsibility for prisons, probation and sentencing policy from the Home Office on 9 May, will place less emphasis on the courts.
They are also concerned they will come under pressure to make decisions based on prisoner numbers and other non-judicial factors.
Lord Phillips said creating the MoJ - which he told MPs he first learned about in an article in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper - would cause a "serious constitutional problem", rather than a "crisis".
He wants an inquiry into the issues raised by the new ministry - and he called for "constitutional safeguards" to ensure the continued independence of the judiciary.
"We have now reached the firm view that there is a need to have a fundamental review of the position in light of the creation of the Ministry of Justice," he told the Constitutional Affairs Committee.
Lord Falconer had hoped to reach an agreement but he told the judges a number of topics were off limits, including the executive agency status of HM Courts Service and the possibility of ring-fencing its budget.
Sticking point
Lord Phillips told the committee: "We've tried very hard to reach an interim agreement to tide over the period that will elapse before a review, and any implementation of it can take effect."
He said the Lord Chancellor did not agree there was a need for a review.
"This has become a fundamental difference between us," he told the committee.
A particular sticking point was the executive agency status of the courts in England and Wales, he said.
The judiciary's chief negotiator on the working group Lord Justice Thomas said they wanted to secure a review of the current position, adding: "We wouldn't have thought it was an awful lot to ask."
Following the split, the Home Office will be left to concentrate on dealing with terrorism, security, immigration and policing.
The Conservatives have urged the government to sort out the situation.
Shadow constitutional affairs secretary Oliver Heald said: "This represents a very serious constitutional problem, and a situation which requires prime ministerial intervention, whether by Tony Blair or Gordon Brown.
"They should not be going on roadshows. They should be sorting out this serious issue."
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/uk_politics/6681579.stm

Published: 2007/05/22 21:50:04 GMT

© BBC MMVII