Lord Falconer's message to his former colleagues is stark and simple: however angry barristers may be about criminal legal aid rates, however many of them go on strike this autumn, there will be no more money before 2006.

"They are certainly very keen that I do something quickly, and I am very much aware of the anger," the Lord Chancellor tells me. "But I am very concerned that we get to a point where we reach a conclusion together."

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