The Ministry of Justice came into being on 9 May. The Ministry has taken over the responsibilities of the former Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA), the Office for Criminal Justice Reform and the National Offender Management Service from the Home Office. The new Ministry will therefore have responsibility for the courts, sentencing, prisons, rehabilitation plus DCA policies like voting, crown dependencies, human rights, tribunals and freedom of information. Lord Falconer, the Lord Chancellor, has become the UK's first Secretary of State for Justice.
Core components of the new Ministry include the Court Service, namely the administration of the civil, family and criminal courts in England and Wales, the tribunals service and constitutional affairs, including freedom of information and civil and human rights.
It has been reported in the media that the judiciary is concerned about the new Ministry and that judges have felt sidelined over crucial decisions in relation to the courts in particular. It is understood that the judges believe that the Court Service, an executive agency, should not only be controlled by the Lord Chancellor but should also be accountable to the Lord Chief Justice. Since the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 came into force, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, the senior judge in England & Wales, is now the head of the judiciary, in place of the Lord Chancellor. It has also been reported that the Lord Chancellor is therefore taking steps to resolve the "rift" with the judiciary and that talks to the secure judges' backing for the new Ministry are continuing.
Further information about the new Ministry is available on its website at www.justice.gov.uk.