Hereditary peers, who have been been categorically told by the Lord Chancellor that they have no chance of using the courts to challenge their removal from the Lords, which Conservative peers were considering after being told that a clause in the Bill was flawed. However, Lord Irvine is confident the Bill is watertight.

Jokester judge Graham Boal QC (above), whose attempt to regale his audience with racist and homophobic jokes raised a poor response at a Criminal Bar Association dinner. Boal told the 282 guests how a white male heterosexual barrister awoke after an accident to find he had the breasts of a lesbian, the backside of a homosexual and the penis of a black man – turning him into an ideal candidate to become a judge or QC.

Lord Irvine, who was told by an industrial tribunal he had a week to reveal the secret appointments procedure he engaged in before appointing his former colleague, barrister Philip Sales, as Treasury Devil. The Lord Chancellor came under fire from a separate industrial tribunal last month, which found him guilty of indirect sex discrimination for appointing his personal friend Garry Hart as his special adviser.