Fifth Justice Secretary in three years
None of the re-shuffle speculation had prepared us for today’s (8 January 2018) promotion of David Lidington to Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (AKA Deputy PM) after just 7 months as Justice Secretary where he has been replaced by David Gauke.
This makes him the fifth Justice Secretary in less than three years, derailing, once again, attempts to reform prisons and probation:
Born in 1971 and educated at Northgate High School in Ipswich, Mr Gauke read law at St Edmund Hall, Oxford University. After a year working as a parliamentary researcher, he attended Chester College of Law before becoming a trainee solicitor. After qualifying as a solicitor in 1997, he worked for a leading City firm before entering Parliament in 2005. David lives in Chorleywood with his wife, Rachel, and their 3 sons and is a lifelong supporter of Ipswich Town.
Mr Gauke is the first solicitor to be Justice Secretary and the first lawyer to be Lord Chancellor since Ken Clarke.
He was elected to the House of Commons at the 2005 general election for Hertfordshire South West following the retirement of Richard Page. Gauke won the seat with a majority of 8,473, making his maiden speech on 9 June 2005. Between 2005 and 2008, he served as a member of the Procedure Select Committee. He was a member of the Treasury Select Committee between 2006 and 2007, before joining the Opposition front bench as Shadow Treasury Minister.
Following his re-election at the 2010 general election, he was appointed Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury before being appointed as Financial Secretary in 2014 and Chief Secretary to the Treasury in July 2016.
On 11 June 2017, Gauke was made Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, having previously only worked in the Treasury.
The Parliament UK site lists his political interests as tax, the economy, education and Europe. His page on the “They Work for You” site lists additional areas of interest as: Open Source Software; Departmental Computers; Police; Outsourcing; and Child Benefit: Personal Records.
Mr Gauke campaigned to remain in the EU and has not voted against the government in the current parliament. His record on voting on Home Affairs is reproduced from “They work for you”:
At the last election he won a very comfortable majority with 57.9% of the vote.
Although he is a solicitor by training, he practised only in the commercial sphere and Mr Gauke has not revealed any particular interest in justice matters in parliament.
Clearly, Cabinet reshuffles are drive by politics but it seems a great shame that the cause of prison and probation reform is necessarily set back by the appointment of a new Justice Secretary who will need time to get to grips with a very demanding brief.
The first Lord Chancellor, a man named Herfast, was appointed in 1068. The post has run continuously through the 950 years since (occasionally changing its name to Lord Keeper or Commissioners of Parliament’s Great Seal during Cromwellian times) and includes such luminaries as Tomas Wolsey and Sir Thomas More.
In 2007, the title was aligned with that of Justice Secretary and there have been just seven post-holders since, five in the last three years: Jack Straw; Kenneth Clarke; Chris Grayling, Michael Gove; Liz Truss; David Lidington & David Gauke.