MoJ reshuffle – who’s who?
It’s all change at the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) as the promotion of former Prisons Minister Rory Stewart sparks a Ministerial reshuffle.
Here, the Keoghs Market Affairs team look at the new recruits and give their insight on the impact of the appointments.
When Rory Stewart was moved from Prisons Minister to Secretary of State for International Development on 1 May, it was expected that it might take a little while to find his replacement. The prisons brief in Government is a notoriously difficult one, and given that Mr Stewart had promised to resign if drugs and violence levels didn’t come down in prisons, his successor would likely have faced immediate questions on whether they would make the same pledge – not the ideal questions to be facing on your first day. If you add to that the number of MPs that have refused to serve in the Government over the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal, then the location of the new appointee seemed a mystery.
Just over a week later, however, it was announced that Robert Buckland QC was to be moved from the Attorney General’s office to fill the gap. Mr Buckland, who had been Solicitor General since 2014, was a barrister who specialised in criminal law before entering Parliament and now represents South Swindon as an MP.
As a result of Mr Buckland’s move to the MoJ, the Solicitor General post became vacant, and this has led to Lucy Frazer being moved out of the MoJ to fill the gap. A well-known figure to the insurance sector, Ms Frazer had been responsible for numerous areas of relevance, including claims management regulation and civil justice (even though she was not responsible for seeing the Civil Liability Bill safely through the House of Commons).
In turn, her vacated role and the responsibilities that come with it has been filled by Paul Maynard, who therefore leaves the Whips Office. Mr Maynard, who has been an MP since 2010, plied his trade as a Parliamentary Private Secretary for a variety of Government Ministers before being appointed a junior Minister in the Department for Transport in 2016. He was a speechwriter and political advisor before entering the House of Commons.
With all the changes, the new Ministerial line-up at the MoJ is:
- The Rt Hon David Gauke MP – Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice
- Robert Buckland QC MP – Minister of State
- Paul Maynard MP – Parliamentary Under Secretary of State
- Edward Argar MP – Parliamentary Under Secretary of State
- The Rt Hon Lord Keen of Elie QC – HM Advocate General for Scotland and MoJ spokesperson for the Lords
The personnel may change, but the overarching reform aims from the Ministry of Justice are likely to stay the same for the immediate term. Brexit paralysis may still grip Parliament, stopping the majority of new legislation in its tracks, but the major changes affecting the insurance sector have already been passed and are now being implemented. Individual Ministers are not likely to alter the policy on these at this point in time.
Although this new cast of Ministers will surely be keen to shape the department and put their own stamp on the job, this reshuffle at the junior levels is unlikely to result in major changes to the current areas of focus. The work on implementing the whiplash reforms is well underway and the changes to the process of setting the Discount Rate is already enshrined in legislation. The decision maker insofar as the discount rate is concerned is David Gauke, who remains in post.
However, it is important to seek to build a relationship to ensure that the insurance voice continues to be heard. Keoghs will look to engage with the new Ministers at the MoJ to discuss the insurance industry viewpoint on key ongoing or emerging policy reforms.