COMMONS

Chair nominations for Justice Committee

The nominations for Select Committee Chairs ran from 4-10 June and the ballot will be on Wednesday 17 June from 10am to 5pm. On this page you can find the full list of nominees for the Justice Committee, the Committee Chair will be a member of the Conservative Party.

Nominated by (own party)

Mr Geoffrey Cox, Derek Thomas, Fiona Bruce, Andrew Bingham, Jeremy Lefroy, Dr Sarah Wollaston, Caroline Ansell, Paul Maynard, Mr Philip Hollobone, Mr Gary Streeter, Steve Double, Mr David Jones, Craig Whittaker, Mrs Sheryll Murray, John Glen

Nominated by (other parties)

Margaret Hodge, Ann Coffey, John Mann, Peter Grant, Valerie Vaz

Relevant interests declared

Consultant to Shepherd Harris and Co. as a solicitor specialising in criminal law.
Receive payments for work as police station and court duty solicitor.

Statement

At my declaration last month I stood before my constituents and told them that I was committed to love service, not power. It is a conviction which has guided me since my very first day in Parliament. For me, service means standing up for the most vulnerable in our society. It means being a voice for the voiceless, and a champion of the dispossessed. But most of all, it means doing the right thing always, regardless of the affect upon career or personal popularity, and I know that many colleagues are driven by the same principles.

I am standing to be Chair of the Justice Select Committee because I believe that nowhere are the values of commitment to service, and compassion for the vulnerable, more desperately needed than in the field of Justice. As we begin this new parliamentary term, the work of the Ministry of Justice over the coming five years will be at the heart of the Government’s agenda: Be it through reforming the Human Rights Act, or deciding where the spending axe has to fall next. If elected I will be a robust, fair, and independently minded Chairman of the Justice Select Committee: I will hold ministers to account. I will listen and I will lead.

My passion for justice led me to pursue a career as a Criminal Defence Solicitor and I have first-hand experience of the justice system as I served as a Duty Police and Court Solicitor across London and Hertfordshire. My experiences in these roles compelled me to stand for public office.

Over the past ten years I have held successive Governments to account and scrutinised every Justice Bill passed. For example, I led the changes to courts compensation, prisoner earnings, dangerous driving sentences, and knife crime sentences. My proudest achievement has been in standing up for and helping to save the life of my constituent, Gary McKinnon, when he faced extradition to the USA. In addition, I have served as a Shadow Justice Minister, and been a robust scrutiniser on two leading Select Committees: Public Accounts and Public Administration. I have also effectively chaired many APPGs.

My passion for justice, and my commitment to service, are my reasons for standing for election. I humbly request your vote for Chair of the Justice Select Committee.


Nominated by (own party)

Mr Kenneth Clarke, Mr David Davis, Mr Dominic Grieve, David T. C. Davies, Mr Stewart Jackson, Chris Heaton-Harris, Tom Pursglove, Crispin Blunt, Edward Argar, Alec Shelbrooke, Suella Fernandes, Mr Peter Bone, Lucy Frazer, Bill Wiggin, Mark Garnier 

Nominated by (other parties)

Karl Turner, Mr David Lammy, Ian Mearns, Mr Virendra Sharma 

Relevant interests declared 

  • Solicitor
  • Member, Law Society 

Statement

Experience
I believe that I have the requisite experience for this role, having served:  two years as shadow Home Office minister and five years shadow Solicitor General;  as well as over two years as a Justice minister.  In addition I have over twenty years practice as a solicitor and have sat on over a dozen Justice related Bill committees, mainly from the front bench.

Impartiality
Accordingly, I have the necessary understanding, acquired both from within government and from my experience of opposition, to hold the department and ministers to account and properly review proposed legislation.

In addition, I know what is required to run a legal practice and appreciate not only the practicalities, expectations and sensitivities of the legal profession, but also the need for its proper regulation to the benefit of the consumer.

Issues
Given tough financial settlements it will be vital that available funds are spent in the best way possible.  The two largest items of MoJ spend by far are Prisons and Legal Aid; so I address these first.

On prisons:  I would like the Committee to review plans and pilots for payment by results and the effectiveness of larger prisons.  Education for prisoners and post sentence rehabilitation assistance are important issues to be improved if reoffending is to be reduced.

Legal Aid has been restricted by savings introduced by successive Labour and Coalition governments.  However, within the context of the budget, it will be important that the Committee reviews how available funding can be made to go further and how inefficiency in the system is reduced.  Better use of technology, for instance in the running of Courts, will be key.

On human rights, Government proposals will form a key area for debate over the coming months.  I see the Committee playing an important role in properly reviewing such proposals in the context of our treaty obligations.

Legal services now constitute almost two percent of UK GDP.  It will be important that this is recognised and encouraged within government and also in the wider context of UK exporting services.  At the same time I would expect the Committee to play a role in reviewing consumer standards concerning the quality of services received from lawyers.

Generally speaking, I think that many people find themselves lost and detached in the Justice system.  We need to make the system work better for its consumers, with less of both "legalese" and complicated procedures.

And finally, a personal issue of importance.  Both, the last Coalition and Labour administrations failed to address the ever more relevant issue of cemetery reburial policy.  A committee report on this would, I hope, lead to action.

Teamwork
Clearly many of these issues are cross departmental and an important part of my chairmanship would be to build closer links with other Committees, especially Home Affairs and BIS.  My style is inclusive and one of encouraging team work – I would expect no less from all members of the committee.

Nominated by (own party)

Boris Johnson, Sir Paul Beresford, Nicola Blackwood, David Tredinnick, Oliver Colvile, Christopher Pincher, Mark Menzies, Dr Matthew Offord, James Morris, Bob Blackman, Karen Lumley, David Morris, Jack Lopresti, Stuart Andrew, James Heappey

Nominated by (other parties)

John McDonnell, Andy McDonald, Mr Jim Cunningham, Jeremy Corbyn, Tom Brake

Statement

To make it clear: I am not a lawyer and have never been a Minister and can therefore bring fresh thinking to the job.  I did this in the last Parliament when I was a member of the Justice Select Committee and participated in its work in a cross-party way.  I think that, notwithstanding that this is a new Parliament, some continuity is to be highly valued.

Since the General Election, we have already seen a number of articles appear in the press about penal policy and the state of our jails. This mirrors the longstanding interest in this topic taken by the committee.  During visits to Denmark and Germany with the Select Committee I was impressed by the way prisoners were encouraged to take personal responsibility for their own future by being allowed to cook their own food rather than rely on a communal provision. I have lobbied to have this change introduced here.

We have also seen the publication of the latest bulletin of the Youth Justice Board.  Like them, we need to be in a position to inform policies and legislation impacting upon youth justice. 

During my time on the committee I have taken a great interest in the work of the Criminal Cases Review Commission and its relationship with the Court of Appeal and in its request for additional funding in order to reduce the backlog it faces.

No doubt, attention will be drawn to the Human Rights changes set out in the Conservative manifesto.  I have no problems in principle with the aim of what is being proposed. But the delay in bringing forward legislation which we can scrutinise actually gives us a chance to participate in the wider consultation and to influence the shape of the changes.

I have the experience to chair this Select Committee.  By way of background, I was an executive member of the 1922 Committee, a trustee of the Industry & Parliament Trust, chairman of the 301 group of Conservative MPs,   a member of the Advisory Council of Speakers Corner Trust, and a parliamentary supporter of Bright Blue.  In the last Parliament, I was PPS to successive Leaders of the House and also to the minister for decentralisation during which I helped introduce Neighbourhood Plans for communities wishing to shape where they lived. I have helped Government with how it structures archaeology services provided by local government and I also co-chaired and contributed to the Designing Democracy publication produced by the Design Commission and chaired its launch at the V&A.   These disparate activities all say something about the skills I have to hold the Government to account and to contribute in a positive fashion. I want to bring all these strands together in chairing this select committee.

Nominated by (own party) 

Mr Andrew Mitchell, Mr Bernard Jenkin, Stephen Phillips, Mr Richard Bacon, Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg, Sir William Cash, Robert Jenrick, Sir David Amess, Martin Vickers, Mr Laurence Robertson, Matt Warman, Philip Davies, Mr Peter Lilley, Mr Christopher Chope, Nigel Mills

Nominated by (other parties) 

Stephen Pound, Helen Goodman, Frank Field, Jim Shannon, Barry Gardiner

Nominated by (own party)

Sir Eric Pickles, Mrs Caroline Spelman, Mrs Cheryl Gillan, Damian Green, Bob Stewart, Richard Graham, Rebecca Harris, James Cleverley, Kelly Tolhurst, Chris Philp, Gordon Henderson, Stephen Metcalfe, Dr Tania Mathias, Maria Caulfield, Craig Mackinlay

Nominated by (other parties)

Meg Hillier, David Simpson, Kate Green, Angus Brendan MacNeil, Wes Streeting

Relevant interests declared

Barrister – no longer practicing

Statement

I have a very strong personal commitment to our Justice system, and the whole of the Committee’s area of work is, of course, going to be of particular importance during this Parliament. The Chair of the Committee will need experience, determination and independence, as well as an ability to work constructively with colleagues from all Parties.

I believe that I have the credentials and style of working to do this.

  • Before coming into Parliament I had a full-time career as a Barrister for over 25 years, specialising in criminal work at every level, both prosecuting and defending in all types of major cases. I know how our legal system works and I am an experienced cross-examiner.
  • I served on the Justice Select Committee in the 2005-2010 Parliament, and was particularly involved in Reports produced on Sentencing Policy and Restorative Justice; an area that I still have a keen personal interest in.
  • I was an active member of the former Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, taking a particular interest in the developing constitutional relationship between the judiciary, executive and devolved institutions, and their transparency and effectiveness.
  • As a relatively recent former Minister, I believe that I have a pretty good insight of how government departments work, how best to influence them - and of the questions determined scrutineers need to ask.
  • I am used to cross-party working; I chaired one of the London Assembly’s major scrutiny committees, and in the last Parliament was also successful in bringing in some small but valuable amendments to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill on a cross-party basis.
  • I am a member of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly’s Legal Affairs and Human Rights Committee and of the Committee to appoint Judges to the ECHR, which gives me a very direct insight into a key area of the Committee’s work and one in which our scrutiny can make a real difference in this Parliament.

I do not believe that it is the job of a Chair to grandstand. Committees are at their best when they work as a team, and scrutiny is best when it is thorough and firmly evidenced-based. I have a reputation for being fair-minded and collegiate, and believe that I have the personal and political skills and standing to do an effective job in an area which I care about deeply.