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How are Raab and Braverman coping?
Lords committee announces new inquiry into lord chancellor and law officers
Peers will examine “the extent to which officer holders are able to remain impartial given their position in the executive branch of government and whether their ability to uphold the rule of law and defend the independence of the judiciary is affected”.
This is serious stuff. The lord chancellor Dominic Raab MP and the senior law officer Suella Braverman MP will no doubt be examined by the committee. But peers also want to receive written submission from interested organisations and individuals during the next four weeks.
The committee seeking views on a number of specific questions. In my view, the ones about the attorney general are the most pointed:
Is it appropriate or helpful for the law officers, as government legal advisers, to be politicians serving in government?
Is it appropriate for the attorney general, as a member of the government, to be involved in some decisions about whether to prosecute?
Are any reforms necessary to the attorney general’s ministerial responsibilities?
There are also some important questions about the lord chancellor’s role:
How is the rule of law being protected with the government and how do the lord chancellor and the law officers ensure this?
Has the amendment of the role of the lord chancellor by the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, and the resulting separation of powers between the judiciary and the government, been successful?
Is further reform of the role of lord chancellor necessary?
The committee also asks:
What are the constitutional boundaries that constrain the law officers and the lord chancellor?
How have the roles of the lord chancellor and the law officers evolved since the initial adjustments following the passing of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005?
These questions are considered in more detail on the committee’s website.
The constitution committee is chaired by the Labour peer, Baroness Drake CBE, a former senior trade union official who was president of the TUC in 2005.
Among other members of the high-powered committee are the former lord chancellor Lord Falconer of Thornton, the former Supreme Court deputy president Lord Hope of Criaghead, the former justice minister Lord Faulks QC and the former journalist Lord Hennessy of Nympsfield.
Drake said today:
While this committee has previously examined the offices of lord chancellor and the attorney general, it is now timely to revisit these topics and consider whether the roles of lord chancellor and the law officers remain appropriate in their current forms and the extent to which office holders are able to align their constitutional responsibilities with their position in the executive branch of government.
I have considered whether Braverman in particular can continue to ride two unruly and diverging horses in a piece for the March edition of The Critic, to be published at the end of of this month.
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The attorney general for England and Wales, the solicitor general for England and Wales and the advocate general for Scotland. The attorney general also holds the separate office of advocate general for Northern Ireland.