HL Deb 03 February 2003 vol 644 c1WA
Lord Lester of Herne Hill

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Chancellor on 7 January (WA 167), why direct and personal answerability by the Lord Chancellor to Parliament is considered appropriate and necessary for decisions regarding the appointment of Queen's Counsel. [HL1042]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg)

In my Written Answer of 7 January to which the noble Lord refers I stated that I am directly and personally answerable to Parliament for the systems and policies relating to the award of Queen's Counsel. I may therefore be questioned in Parliament on these, as distinct from decisions whether to advise Her Majesty to award Silk in individual cases.

Constitutional propriety dictates that Her Majesty should be able to rely on the advice of a Minister in the exercise of Her Royal Prerogative. That includes appointments to the rank of Queen's Counsel. I am the appropriate Minister in this case. My responsibilities include policy on the regulation of the legal professions and the safeguarding of the public interest in the provision of legal services: the award of Silk assists in this since Silk is a quality mark for the consumer.

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