moj ministers june 18
Russell Webster

Russell Webster

Criminal Justice & substance misuse expert and author of this blog.

New ministerial team at the MoJ

The MoJ has four new ministers out of five following Phillip Lee's resignation. What do we know about them?

Updated 30 June 2018

Who’s who at the MoJ?

In her January 2018 reshuffle, Prime Minister  Theresa May replaced David Lidington with David Gauke but she promoted two of the MoJ’s junior ministers too, Dominic Raab was promoted to housing minister while Sam Gyimah was promoted to Universities Minister, Minister of State at the Department for Education. Their replacements are Rory Stewart as Minister of State and Lucy Frazer. 

The only Minister to remain in place was Dr Phillip Lee. However, earlier this week (12 June 2018), Dr Lee resigned over Brexit and has been replaced by Edward Argar MP.

Here’s an up-to-date picture of the full MoJ team:

Roles and responsibilities

As you can see, Rory Stewart is Minister of State replacing Dominic Raab. His roles and responsibilities are listed as:

  • Prison operations, reform and industrial relations
  • Probation services and reform industrial relations
  • Sentencing (including out of court disposals)
  • Public protections (including Parole Board, IPPs and Serious Further Offences)
  • Foreign National Offenders
  • Extremism
  • Electronic Monitoring
  • Supporting SoS on departmental finances and transparency

Lucy Frazer’s role and responsibilities are listed as:

  • Court services and reform (including Bills)
  • Legal aid
  • Legal support and fees
  • Administrative justice and tribunals
  • Criminal justice
  • Family justice
  • Supporting the Secretary of State on EU exit and international business
  • Shadow Commons minister for Lord Keen portfolio (except for Civil Liabilities Bill)
  • Parliamentary Minister (SIs)

It has been confirmed that Ed Argar will inherit Dr Lee’s responsibilities:

  • victims (including domestic abuse)
  • female offenders
  • youth justice
  • offender health
  • coroners, burials, inquests and inquiries
  • Lammy Review
  • Race Disparity Audit
  • Devolved Administrations
  • devolution (PCCs)
  • human rights
  • Lawfare
  • mental capacity and Office of the Public Guardian
  • transgender offenders
  • veterans

Finally, Lord Keen of Elie remains MoJ spokesperson in the House of Lords. I have included the new ministers’ Twitter feeds in case you want to follow them.

Rory Stewart – Minister of State, responsible for prisons and probation

Roderick James Nugent “Rory” Stewart, (born 3 January 1973) is a British diplomat, politician, and writer. Stewart was a senior coalition official in Iraq in 2003–04. He is known for his book about this experience, The Prince of the Marshes (also published under the title Occupational Hazards), and for his 2002 walk across Afghanistan (one part of a larger walk across Asia), which served as the basis for another book, The Places in Between.  In July 2008, he was appointed Ryan Family Professor of Human Rights at Harvard University.

Since May 2010, he has been the Member of Parliament for Penrith and The Border; he is a former Chair of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee and moved from being Minister of State at the Department for International Development and as Minister of State for Africa at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.

The Parliament UK website lists his political interests as local democracy, rural affairs, broadband and foreign affairs. He led a review on the reasons why a number of British veterans become criminal offenders after returning to civilian life  but stepped down before it was complete when he was appointed Chair of the Defence Committee. Many commentators were surprised that he was moved from a department where he had considerable expertise to one where he has none.

Lucy Frazer – Court Services

Lucy Frazer (born 17 May 1972) studied  at Cambridge where she was President of the Cambridge Union. She worked as a barrister in commercial law, and went on to become a QC at the age of forty. She won the South East Cambridgeshire seat in the 2015 general election with 28,845 votes (48.5%), a margin of victory of 16,837. and was elected to sit on the Education Select Committee in the same year. She also sat on the Policing and Crime Bill Committee in 2016. Ms Frazer was also David Lidington’s (the previous Justice Secretary) Parliamentary Private Secretary and sat in on a number of his meetings which will make her perhaps the best prepared of the new ministerial team.

Ed Argar – Victims, women offenders, youth and family justice

Ed Argar has been the MP for Charnwood since 2015. After taking a degree in history at Oxford, he spent almost a decade working for private sector businesses including Hedra, Serco, and Mouchel in management consultancy and communications jobs, as well as previously having spent four years as Political Adviser to the then Shadow Foreign Secretary focusing on Middle East policy and travelling extensively in the region. His work for Serco was as a justice lobbyist and David Gauke has had to declare that the MoJ will take steps to avoid any conflict of interests. Mr Argar’s interests are listed as: Department for International Development;  Foreign and Commonwealth Office; Department of Health; Department for Education; Home Office; Developing Countries: Contracts; Yemen, Algeria and children asylum seekers.

Ed Argar is not on Twitter.

Lord Keen – Advocate General for Scotland and MoJ spokeperson for the Lords

Richard Sanderson Keen has a long-standing involvement in the law having been an advocate (the equivalent of a barrister in England and Wales) in Scotland since 1980. He was chairman of the Scottish Conservative Party in 2014 and was ennobled in June 2015 when he became Advocate General for Scotland. He was the Lords spokesperson for the Home Office from April 2016 until moving to the MoJ later that year.

As an advocate he was involved in many high level cases representing Rangers Football Club and Andy Coulson among others. Lord Keen is not on Twitter.

Conclusion

Overall, the main problem facing the new MoJ team is the lack of continuity. In addition to frequent changes of Justice Secretary (5 postholders in the last three years), there is also a new Minister of State in Rory Stewart with little or no apparent knowledge of criminal justice and Sam Gyimah, the prisons and probation minister has moved on. Both David Gauke (solicitor) and Lucy Frazer (barrister and QC) are legally trained but had careers in commercial law. Mr Argar appears to have no experience of the justice system.

Given the current parlous state of the prison and probation services, it’s a shame that a political reshuffle has delayed the momentum of reform and snuffed out again any chance of badly needed leadership in the justice arena.

For a profile of Justice Secretary David Gauke, go here.

All prison posts are kindly sponsored by Prison Consultants Limited who offer a complete service from arrest to release for anyone facing prison and their family. Prison Consultants have no editorial influence on the contents of this site.

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