An independent judiciary is the cornerstone of our constitution and our democracy, and we are rightly proud of our world-class judiciary. As Lord Chancellor, I have sworn an oath to defend its independence. I take that extremely seriously and will continue to defend its independence vigorously.
Consistent with the Lord Chancellor’s speech at the opening of legal year, will he confirm that there is no place for political involvement in the appointment of judges and no question but that the rulings of the courts must be observed by all?
Will the Secretary of State today put it on record not only that he believes in the independence of a robust judiciary, but that his Government will obey the law, and not crash us out of the European Union against the law?
I thank the Lord Chancellor for speaking out in favour of the independence of the judiciary.
Lord Hope of Craighead, a former Deputy President of the Supreme Court and Lord President of the Court of Session, has pointed out that
“The Supreme Court justices were careful to explain in their judgment”
on the Prorogation case
“that they were not pronouncing on political questions. The issues with which they were dealing…were issues of law.”
Will the Lord Chancellor explain that to those in his party demanding a politicised appointment process for the judiciary?
I am grateful to the hon. and learned Lady. I treat the remarks of the noble Lord Hope with extreme gravity, bearing in mind his experience and knowledge. It always bears repeating that the judiciary do not have political motivations, and that case was no exception. Frankly, I think the matter needs no further debate. If we ended up with an American-style approval system, we would all be the poorer for it.
Yesterday a Scottish court recorded the Prime Minister’s unequivocal promise to comply with his statutory duties under the Benn Act. The judge, Lord Pentland, said:
“it would be destructive of one of the core principles of constitutional propriety and of the mutual trust that is the bedrock of the relationship between the court and the crown for the prime minister or the government to renege on what they have assured the court that the prime minister intends to do”.
Can the Lord Chancellor assure us that he will be impressing on the Prime Minister the grave consequences of ignoring that warning from a senior member of the Scottish judiciary?
We have seen the Justice Secretary forced to take to Twitter to defend the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law after recent briefings from No. 10 Downing Street. He may well have to do that again later today, after this morning’s headlines. The Attorney General has briefed the press that he will resign if the Government refuse to adhere to the law demanding an extension to rule out no deal. Will the Justice Secretary do the same?