Vera Baird, QC, appointed Legal Aid Minister last week, is the third in eight weeks.

Lawyers are hoping that Baird, long tipped as ministerial material, will last a bit longer than the others. Harriet Harman took over legal aid from Bridget Prentice on March 15 as part of a reshuffle of responsibilities caused by a possible conflict of interest resulting from her husband Jack Dromey's exposure of the loans-for-peerages affair. Richard Miller, director of the Legal Aid Practitioners Group, says: "Three different ministers in eight weeks is a shabby way to treat the legal aid system. But we're hopeful that Vera Baird's appointment will prove a good one. She has a sound understanding of many of the issues facing the legal aid system."

With Baird's arrival Lord Falconer of Thoroton's ministers keep their nickname - Charlie's Angels. After the muddle when it was reported that Baroness Ashton of Upholland had been appointed part-time Farming Minister, she stayed after all - and becomes a Privy Councillor to make up for the fiasco.

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