Just nine weeks after I was promoted to the rank of Minister of State by the then Prime Minister Theresa May, and appointed as Minister of State for Transport I was, on 26th July, promoted once again by the new Prime Minister Boris Johnson to the position of Solicitor General for England and Wales.
I am thrilled and delighted to have been asked to continue to serve Her Majesty’s Government by the new Prime Minister- and especially so in this ancient and historic office of state where I can use my legal experience honed over 17 years as a barrister in Northampton before I was first elected as MP for Northampton North.
The Solicitor General plays an integral part at the heart of our legal system and with the Attorney General is responsible for, amongst other duties:
- As one of the Government’s chief law officers, advising the government on legal matters and advising Government departments on the legality of their actions.
- Superintending organisations such as the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the Service Prosecuting Authority (for Courts Martial) and the Serious Fraud Office amongst others – including having to give overall consent for the CPS to prosecute certain specified high-level cases.
- Attending as a member of the Parliamentary Business and Legislation (PBL) Committee, scrutinising all of the Government’s legislation before it reaches Parliament – a Committee I previously attended when I was Deputy Leader of the House of Commons.
- The Solicitor General also has the authority to appear in court personally to act on behalf of the Crown. I personally intend to appear in the Court of Appeal to appeal against criminal sentences passed by judges which are considered to be ‘unduly lenient’, to seek to have those sentences increased.
The role of Solicitor General for England and Wales is a truly historic role dating back to the year 1461. I believe I am the first Northampton MP to hold the role since Spencer Perceval in the year 1801.
Other people who have served in office as Solicitors General through the years include Sir Francis Bacon, Sir Edward Carson, Rufus Isaacs, and F.E. Smith.
This appointment is my fourth ministerial office or government appointment over three Prime Ministers- and is a huge honour.
There is a real link to Northampton with this appointment as I was a barrister in practice for 17 years between 1993 and 2010 and the vast majority of my work was at our very own Northampton Crown Court acting in cases where defendants were legally aided.