Commons Justice Committee – possible chairmen

Elections of chairs of Select Committees for the new session of Parliament will be held shortly. The Justice Committee will have an important role in scrutinising plans to replace the Human Rights Act. Former Minister of Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly – closely associated with the LASPO Act in the last Parliament – is among the candidates standing for the chair.

Liberal Democrat Sir Alan Beith stood down at the May 2015 election. In any event, with the change from coalition to majority government, the chair of the Justice Select Committee will now be drawn from the Conservative benches. Five candidates, – all of whom are white, middle(ish) aged men – are standing in the ballot for the role.

Former Minister Jonathan Djanogly is probably the most well-known of the five, at least in the insurance and legal communities. He served as a Justice Minister for two years in the last Parliament and led many of the Commons debates during the passage of the LASPO Act 2012. He has some heavyweight figures supporting his candidature, including former Lord Chancellor Kenneth Clarke and former Attorney-General Dominic Grieve.

Sir Edward Leigh is another reasonably well-known candidate, having served as a junior Minister in John Major’s government and as Chair of the Public Accounts Committee from 2001-2010. This role was the one in which his successor, Dame Margaret Hodge, rose to national prominence during the 2010-15 Parliamentary session.

The other candidates are: former barrister Bob Neill (a member of the Justice Committee from 2005-10 and a former Minister for Communities & Local Government), former criminal law solicitor David Burrows and John Howell. The last of these, although having served on the Justice Committee during the last Parliament, might be thought to be underlining his outsider or maverick status in declaring in his candidature: “I am not a lawyer and have never been a Minister”. Interestingly, perhaps, the first name on the list of those who nominated him is that of Boris Johnson.

The new Justice Committee chairman is due to be elected on 17 June 2015.


About the Author

akAlistair Kinley is BLM’s Director of Policy & Government Affairs.

Alistair is responsible for BLM’s engagement with government departments and regulators on policy and public affairs issues and consultations affecting the firm and its customers. He coordinated BLM’s market-facing activities in connection with the Insurance Act 2015 and the consultations which preceded its publication and introduction in Parliament.

He is a member of the Civil Justice Council (CJC), a regular speaker and experienced commentator on legal and procedural reforms and was a contributing editor to the Law Society’s Litigation Funding Handbook (September 2014).

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