Judicial Appointments Commission to be scrapped?

The Ministry of Justice announced today that it would be “delivering” £343 million of savings. So what’s for the chop?

There will be savings of £27m by 2012/13, it explained,

by reducing the cost of the Ministry of Justice’s arm’s-length bodies, including by reducing their number by one third this year, streamlining the Legal Services Commission (and moving it to Executive Agency status), efficiencies from the Youth Justice Board, bringing together Her Majesty’s Courts Service and the Tribunals Service into a unified agency, abolishing the 19 Courts Boards, and reviewing the role and operation of the Judicial Appointments Commission (subject to legislative approvals).

A phrase like “reviewing the role and operation” usually means abolishing. So does “streamlining”, as in the phrase “streamlining the Legal Services Commission”. Does that mean we shall see a return to the days when judges were “tapped on the shoulder” by the Lord Chancellor?

It was both quick and cheap. No need to wait eight months for a new Supreme Court judge. No need to wait until the president of the Family Division has retired before his successor is named. And nobody can say that the present arrangements are any better at getting minorities on the Bench.

But it’s too late now. Once you have take a brick out of the constitutional wall, the whole edifice begins to sag and you can never put it back.

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