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Lord Chancellor (Salary)

Part of Schedule 16 – in the House of Commons at 11:50 pm on 10th April 1989.

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Photo of Mr Alex Carlile Mr Alex Carlile , Montgomery 11:50 pm, 10th April 1989

I do not think that I mentioned the dockers, but let me clarify what I am saying to the hon. Member for Bolsover. It is important to leave the independence of lawyers alone and not to take them under Government control.

There is another reason why the Lord Chancellor may need an increase in salary. His job as a judge will be that much more difficult. The proposals in the Green Paper would entitle lawyers to full advocacy certificates not on the basis of their competence there would be no test of competence—but because they had stood up in court and done a given number of a particular type of case, however, badly. That is what the Green Paper amounts to: there is no quality control whatever. Judges in this country—the Lord Chancellor earns his salary as a judge, the head of the judiciary—depend upon receiving guidance as to the applicable law from those appearing in front of them. If the quality of those appearing in front of them is not as rigorously controlled, both by competence and the market, as it is at the moment, we shall have a judiciary that is embattled, oversized and probably therefore less competent. The Lord Chancellor's budget will increase exponentially and that, I suppose, will force us to recognise, on that cynical basis, that he will have to be given an increase in salary.

I trust in what we heard from the Lord Chancellor in the other place last Friday, that if there is to be legislation in the next Session, careful consideration will be given to all the points put before him. If he is to be worth the salary that will, no doubt, be voted to him tonight, he must pay careful attention to those points and, above all other things, to the independence of the law.