Grave disquiet has arisen about the government’s attitude to the rule of law. Alistair Lexden put forward suggestions for improvement in a letter (attached) published in The Daily Telegraph on January 15.
The government fully deserves its chastisement by Peter Oborne for attacking the rule of law (“Hypocrites jumping aboard the Magna Carta bandwagon”, Jan.8). The Cabinet contains the holder of a great, historic post who is under an explicit duty, laid down in his oath of office, to protect the rule of law. That is the Lord Chancellor, Chris Grayling. Yet the legislation which he has brought forward in this Parliament has consistently attracted severe censure from the distinguished lawyers who advise the House of Lords as it goes about its work of scrutinising in detail bills which emerge from the Justice Department.
The Lords Select Committee on the Constitution, of which I am a member, recently published a report on the office of Lord Chancellor, reviewing its position nearly ten years after Tony Blair’s hasty, bungled reforms. In his evidence to the Committee Mr Grayling did not accept that as Lord Chancellor the defence of the rule of law rested ultimately with him alone. We therefore recommended that he should be instructed “ to ensure that the rule of law is upheld within Cabinet and across Government”. We also recommended that in future the holder of the post should be a person “willing to speak up for that principle with ministerial colleagues, including the Prime Minister”. Britain must have a Lord Chancellor who puts his duty to the law above party politics.