Page last updated at 14:58 GMT, Wednesday, 1 October 2008 15:58 UK
Lord Chancellor

The position of Lord Chancellor can be traced back to medieval times and is one of the most senior roles in British government, bestowing membership of the cabinet and the Privy Council upon its holder.

Recent 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.

The Lord Chancellor is no longer the head of the judiciary and there is no longer any requirement for the Lord Chancellor to be a member of the House of Lords.

Since the first Lord Speaker was elected on 4 July 2006, the Lord Chancellor no longer presides over proceedings in the House of Lords.

But the role has not disappeared - it has merely been amalgamated with that of secretary of state for justice.

Conservative MP Ken Clarke is currently Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor, leading on policy for courts, prisons, probation and constitutional affairs.

He also performs ceremonial duties as Lord Chancellor at State Opening of Parliament.

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