Law firms may be needed to draft new laws

The Government's lawyers are reportedly so snowed under with the weighty workload that Labour's legislative programme is facing delay. The utilities bill, for example, – which reforms utility regulations – was due to be published before Christmas, but is now, apparently, on hold.

There are also growing fears that the financial services and markets bill is falling behind schedule.

City lawyers have entered the legislation-drafting arena before: in 1995 Freshfields wrote part of that year's finance bill at the behest of Kenneth Clarke, the then Chancellor.

Moves to again use private practice lawyers to draft legislation is, however, sure to be opposed by critics who say such lawyers do not possess specialised enough knowledge and that such a practice leads to serious conflicts of interest.