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Friday, October 15, 1999 Published at 13:16 GMT 14:16 UK

UK Politics

Lord Chancellor's Department

The Lord Chancellor's Department is responsible for 400 buildings

Lord Chancellor: Lord Irvine of Lairg

[ image: Lord Irvine: Also speaker of the House of Lords]
Lord Irvine: Also speaker of the House of Lords
The lord chancellor is effectively the minister of justice in England and Wales.

The lord chancellor is the head of the judiciary and has responsibility for the management of the courts and the appointment of judges and magistrates.

He also is responsible for the administration of legal aid and the overview of civil legislation such as family law, property law, and defamation.

He is also a senior member of the cabinet with the ministerial responsibility for much of the administration of justice.

The lord chancellor is also speaker of the House of Lords.

Parliamentary Secretary: Jane Kennedy

Former government whip Jane Kennedy replaced Keith Vaz at the Lord Chancellor's Department in the October reshuffle.

She is one of two parliamentary secretaries in the Lord Chancellor's Department who both make a contribution to major policy decisions made by the Lord Chancellor.

Ms Kennedy deals with the department's business in the Commons.

She is responsible for criminal IT issues, community legal service, the Court Service, criminal policy and magistrates courts.

Her position also covers legal aid, including the legal aid board, and legal services.

Parliamentary Secretary: David Lock

Mr Lock has overall responsibility for IT issues, land registry, the Northern Ireland court service, civil justice, devolution, family policy and human rights.

The department

The Lord Chancellor's Department covers the legal system in England and Wales. Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own legal systems.

The department is responsible for the appointment of judges, the administration of the courts system and a number of tribunal.

It also administers the provision of legal aid and legal services and reform of civil law in England.

The department employs about 12,000 staff, the majority of whom work in the Courts Service and is responsible for more than 400 buildings.

The Courts Service is responsible for the administration of higher courts, such as crown courts,

The Lord Chancellor is accountable to Parliament for the operation of magistrates' courts, but local authorities are responsible for their administration.

The Home Office is responsible for the management of coroners' courts.

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