Educated at Trinity College, Glenalmond, and Queens’ College, Cambridge, Charlie Falconer became a flatmate of Tony Blair when they were both young barristers in London in the early 1970s. They had first met as pupils at rival schools in the 1960s. While Blair went into politics, Falconer concentrated on his legal career, becoming a Queen's Counsel in 1991.
He joined the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions as Minister for Housing, Planning and Regeneration after the 2001 election and moved on to the Home Office in 2002. At the Home Office he was responsible for criminal justice, sentencing and law reform, and annoyed some of his fellow lawyers by suggesting that their fees were too high.
In 2003 he joined the Cabinet as the first Constitutional Affairs Secretary. The post took over many of the responsibilites of the Lord Chancellor, the Welsh Secretary and the Scottish Secretary. Falconer remained Lord Chancellor while the process to abolish the office was started, but announced his intention not to use the Lord Chancellor's power to sit as a judge. He has also stopped wearing the traditional robe and wig of office. The replacement of Derry Irvine, Blair's mentor, with Charlie Falconer, one of his best friends, gave Blair's opponents a further opportunity to criticise the role of "Tony's cronies" in the government.
The Lord Chancellor is the Speaker (presiding officer) of the House of Lords.
The Lord Chancellor is also involved in the annual ceremony known as the State Opening of Parliament, during which the Sovereign delivers the Speech from the Throne (also known as the King's or Queen's Speech), outlining the agenda of the Government for the upcoming parliamentary session.
The Lord Chancellor is entitled to an annual emolument of Â£207,736 and to an annual pension of Â£103,868.
In May 1997 Blair became Prime Minister and Falconer was made a life peer as Baron Falconer of Thoroton, of Thoroton in the County of Nottinghamshire (he was the first peer created on Blair's recommendation), and joined the government as Solicitor General.
LordFalconer of Thoroton remained Lord Chancellor while the process to abolish the office was started, but announced his intention not to use the Lord Chancellor's power to sit as a judge.
The replacement of Lord Irvine of Lairg, Blair's mentor, with LordFalconer of Thoroton, one of his best friends, gave Blair's opponents a further opportunity to criticise the role of "Tony's cronies" in the government.
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