The Lord Chancellor is a Cabinet minister and currently a Member of the House of Commons. Reforms, including the creation of the Ministry of Justice and the election of a Lord Speaker for the House of Lords, have significantly altered the role of Lord Chancellor in modern times.
Ministry of Justice
On 9 May 2007, the Ministry of Justice was created. The two roles of Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor have since been carried out by one person with the office-holder holding both titles. The Ministry of Justice is responsible for the courts, prisons and probation services in England and Wales.
Election of the first Lord Speaker
On 4 July 2006, Members of the House of Lords elected their first Lord Speaker. This new role assumed some of the Lord Chancellor's responsibilities, such as chairing debates in the Lords' chamber and speaking for the House on ceremonial occasions.
Judicial Appointments Commission
A new Judicial Appointments Commission began to operate from 3 April 2006. This ended the Lord Chancellor's past position as head of the judiciary (courts of law in England and Wales) and power to appoint judges.
The role of the Lord Chancellor
The reform of the Lord Chancellor's role separated its different responsibilities and made a clearer distinction between government, Parliament and the judiciary.
Commons Library briefings
The House of Commons Library produces briefing papers to inform MPs and their staff of key issues. The papers contain factual information and a range of opinions on each subject, and aim to be politically impartial.