Monday, 12 June 2017
Monday 12th June - New Lord Chancellor and other matters
The Prime Minister is forming her government and the appointments may be seen via the No. 10 Downing Street website.
Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice:
Rt Hon David Lidington MP becomes Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice. His appointment has been welcomed in some quarters (Law Society, Bar Council) but, for my part, I will wait to see how he performs. There is much to be done in relation to the prison system. There are also serious issues concerning the reduction of legal aid which took place following the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2011 (LASPO). Then there is the major programme of modernisation of the court system. A Prisons and Courts Bill
was before Parliament prior to the General Election and it contained a number of significant reforms and progress in this area seems likely to be restored by the new Lord Chancellor. See Mr Lidington's wikpedia entry and his voting record. Mr Lidington (as Minister for Europe) informed MPs that the EU referendum would be "advisory" - see this debate where Mr Lidington said:
"The legislation is about holding a vote; it makes no provision for what follows. The referendum is advisory, as was the case for both the 1975 referendum on Europe and the Scottish independence vote last year. In neither of those cases was there a threshold for the interpretation of the result. The Government take the view that, in respect of EU membership, we are one United Kingdom. The referendum will be on the subject of the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union and it is therefore right that there should be one referendum and one result."
Minister of State for Courts and Justice:
Dominic Raab MP has been appointed Minister of State for Courts and Justice. He replaces Sir Oliver Heald QC MP. Mr Raab's wikepedia entry and voting record. During Michael Gove's tenure of the Lord Chancellorship, Mr Raab worked on plans to reform human rights protection but those plans have not (yet) come to fruition and the Conservative 2017 manifesto envisaged repeal of the Human Rights Act 1998 but only after the UK withdraws from the EU - post of 7th June 2017.
The government is holding talks with the Democratic Union Party (DUP) with a view to obtaining support in Parliament for a legislative programme. Concerns have been raised over such involvement with the DUP given its stance on a number of issues (e.g. abortion remains illegal in Northern Ireland) and also the possibility that the British government will no longer be seen as impartial between political parties in Northern Ireland. It is argued by some that this will jeopardise the Whit Friday (Belfast) Agreement.
At the present time we do not know what the government's legislative programme will be. In the event that it contains a public Bill which applies only to England then the "English Votes for English Laws" (EVEL) procedure will apply. The Conservative Party has a substantial majority in ENGLAND. See Parliament - English Votes for English Laws. The EVEL procedure was introduced by amendment of the Standing Orders of the House of Commons and was intended as an answer to the "West Lothian" question.
English seats - June 2017