Would-be silks set to pay £220 just to apply

Would-be QCs must come up with the funds for the silk selection process themselves in future, the Government has decided.
As the Access to Justice Bill proceeded through its second reading, Minister of State at the Lord Chancellor's Department Geoff Hoon told the Commons that the taxpayer should no longer have to bear the estimated £120,000 cost of the process.
“That situation is contrary to our policy on full cost recovery and constitutes a public subsidy for a system of promotion for a profession that hardly needs taxpayers' assistance,” he said.
The planned measure – which will be put on a statutory basis through an amendment to the Access to Justice Bill – comes just weeks after The Lawyer revealed (15 February) that one barrister has applied to become a Queens Counsel 25 times but has never paid a penny towards the steep administration costs.
Following that revelation the Bar Council offered to pay the QC selection costs itself, but has now asked the Government to levy applicants.
Labour MP Andrew Dismore – who has won the support of more than 100 MPs for his early day motion in the Commons calling for the abolition of QCs – says: “This is a victory and I hope it is the first of many with regard to QCs.”
Last year, around 550 barristers applied for QC status and 69 were successful. If the application level remains the same, candidates will have to pay around u220 to apply.
But the Lord Chancellor's Department does not feel this will deter future applicants.
A spokesman says: “Firstly, we have had indications of support from the Bar Council in terms of setting a fee, and secondly, the elevation to QC status is accompanied by higher charging opportunities.”