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GEOFF Hoon MP, the parliamentary secretary at the Lord Chancellor's Department, has asked Labour lawyers at Westminster to set up a backbench group to advise the government on legal affairs.
The move signals the new government's determination to tap the legal talent in the Houses of Commons and Lords for advice on its hectic legislative programme.
Hoon said the group would be a "fairly formal" gathering of back bench Labour solicitors and barristers as well as other MPs with expertise in related areas such as the advice sector.
"I am keen that all the legal expertise available is made available to ministers - and the group will meet formally after the recess," he said.
Andrew Dismore, the leading personal injury specialist who was elected as Labour MP for Hendon in the last election, said Hoon was open to ideas and he had already met with him on a number of occasions.
Hoon's move coincides with an initiative by the Law Society to get the Lords and Commons Solicitors' Group recognised as an official all-party group.