Wednesday, 12 May 2010

A new Coalition Government: the legal eagles!

Wartime apart, coalition government in the U.K. has been rare.  One example is the government headed by David Lloyd-George which lasted from December 1916 until 1922 - (even that commenced in wartime).  A further example is the so-called "National Government" from 1931-1940 under Ramsay MacDonald, Stanley Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain.  This makes the Coalition government of Conservatives and Liberal-Democrats quite remarkable and nobody is pretending that it will be easy to make it work successfully.

The Coalition emerged following the 6th May election which did not give any party an overall majority in the House of Commons.  The nation went through almost 5 days of uncertainty as deals were being negotiated.  In the new coalition, David Cameron is Prime Minister and Nick Clegg is Deputy P.M.  The new Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor is Kenneth Clarke QC.  The new Home Secretary is Theresa May.  Mrs May will also hold the portfolio of "Women and Equality"

The new Attorney-General is Mr Dominic Grieve QC and he will be the first Attorney-General to sit in the House of Commons since July 1999.  This role is an immensely important one since the Attorney is chief legal adviser to the government and the role is likely to have enhanced importance in a coalition government.  At the time of writing it is not clear who will become Solicitor General - (the second "Law Officer of the Crown").  The Liberal-Democrat peer Lord Carlile of Berriew QC has been the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation.  Under the coalition he would not appear to be independent and therefore a new appointee in that role can be expected.  Following the Attorney-Generalship of Lord Goldsmith QC, there were many calls for reform of the role of Attorney-General but these have not been taken forward and seem to have been resisted by Baroness Scotland QC.  It will be interesting to see whether the ideas re-emerge.

Government appointments

Addendum 14th May:  The Solicitor General is Edward Garnier QC
Law Society Gazette - Ministers in the Ministry of Justice - 13th May 2010

Advocate General in Scotland

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