Page updated: 08th Sept 2012
The Ministers in the Ministry of Justice are as follows:
|The Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP||Secretary of State and Lord Chancellor of Great Britain||Overall responsibility for the department, criminal justice & penal policy strategy, constitutional issues, judicial policy, national security justice issues, EU & international matters|
|The Rt Hon Lord McNally||Minister of State and Deputy Leader of the House of Lords||Human rights and civil liberties, Freedom of Information, data sharing and protection, legislation and law reform, public law, Crown Dependencies, National Archives, Law Commission. Also departmental spokesperson in the House of Lords|
|Damian Green MP||Minister of State (jointly with the Home Office)||Criminal justice strategy|
|Helen Grant MP||Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (jointly with Department of Culture, Media and Sport)||Prisons, probation, youth justice, criminal law and sentencing policy|
|Jeremy Wright MP||Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State||Legal aid and legal services, HM Courts and Tribunals Service, civil law and justice, family law, coroners and burials, Office of the Public Guardian and mental capacity, Criminal Cases Review Commission, Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, Parole Board for England and Wales|
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is a ministerial department of the UK Government headed by the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor (a combined position). His department is also responsible for areas of constitutional policy not transferred in 2010 to the Deputy Prime Minister, human rights law and information rights law across the UK.
The ministry was formed in 2007 when some functions of the Home Secretary were combined with the Department for Constitutional Affairs. The latter had replaced the Lord Chancellor’s Department in 2003.
Its stated priorities are to reduce re-offending and protect the public, to provide access to justice, to increase confidence in the justice system, and uphold people’s civil liberties. The Secretary of State is the minister responsible to Parliament for the judiciary, the court system and prisons and probation in England and Wales, with some additional UK-wide responsibilities e.g. the UK Supreme Court and judicial appointments by the Crown.
Prior to the formation of the Coalition Government in May 2010, the ministry handled relations between the UK Government and the three devolved administrations: the Northern Ireland Executive; the Scottish Government; and the Welsh Government.
Responsibility for devolution was then transferred to the re-established position of Deputy Prime Minister, currently Nick Clegg, based in the Cabinet Office. He also assumed responsibility for political and constitutional reform, including reform of the House of Lords, the West Lothian Question, electoral policy, political party funding reform and royal succession.
The Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Justice have joint responsibility for a commission on a British bill of rights.
The Ministry of Justice retained the following UK-wide remit:
- European Union and international justice policy
- Freedom of information and data protection
- Human rights and civil liberties
- Justice and national security
- the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
- The National Archives
As the office of the Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, the ministry is also responsible for policy relating to Lord Lieutenants (i.e. the personal representatives of the British monarchy), “non-delegated” royal, church and hereditary issues, and other constitutional issues, although the exact definition of these is unclear.
The post of Lord Chancellor of Ireland was abolished in 1922 but Northern Ireland remains part of the UK, however the functions and responsibilities do belong from then to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, currently Owen Patterson.
England and Wales only
Further information: Legal system in England and Wales
The vast majority of the Ministry of Justice’s work takes place in England and Wales. The ministry has no responsibility for devolved criminal justice policy, courts, prisons or probation matters in either Scotland or Northern Ireland.
Within the jurisdiction of England and Wales, the Ministry of Justice is responsible for ensuring that all suspected offenders (including children and young people) are appropriately dealt with from the time they are arrested, until convicted offenders have completed their sentence. The ministry is therefore responsible for all aspects of the criminal law, including the scope and content of criminal offences. Its responsibilities extend to the commissioning of prison services (through the National Offender Management Service), rehabilitation and reducing offending, victim support, the probation service and the out-of-court system, the Youth Justice Board, sentencing and parole policy, criminal injuries compensation and the Criminal Cases Review Commission.
Other responsibilities limited to England and Wales include the administration of all courts and tribunals, land registration, legal aid and the regulation of legal services, coroners and the investigation of deaths, administrative justice and public law, the maintenance of the judiciary, public guardianship and mental incapacity, supervision of restricted patients detained under the Mental Health Act 1983 and civil law and justice, including the family justice system and claims management regulation.
The Ministry of Justice is the department with primary responsibility for the Crown dependencies i.e. Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. These are self-governing possessions of the British monarch, through her titles as Duke of Normandy in the Channel Islands and Lord of Mann in the Isle of Man.
This means that it acts as the main line of communication between Whitehall and the governments of the islands (similar to the role of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in relation to the British Overseas Territories), and agrees to submit for royal assent legislation passed by the insular legislative assemblies. It also ensures that relevant UK legislation is extended to the islands smoothly, and makes Crown appointments within the islands.
The Ministry has outlined its aims for the 2011-2015 Parliament in its structural reform plan, which commits the department to:
1. Introduce a “rehabilitation revolution”
- Create a system introducing greater involvement of the private and voluntary sectors in the rehabilitation of offenders, including use of payment by results, to cut reoffending
2. Reform sentencing and penalties
- Ensure that the justice system reduces reoffending by introducing more effective sentencing policies and considering the use of restorative justice for adult and youth crimes
3. Reform courts, tribunals and legal aid, and work with others to reform delivery of criminal justice
- Reform the legal aid system to make it work more efficiently, while ensuring that we provide necessary support for those who need it most and for those cases that require it.
- Develop court reforms to improve the resolution of disputes, maximise efficiency and improve services and work with others to make delivery of criminal justice more effective and efficient
4. Assure “better law”
- Assure that law-making is transparent and accountable, safeguarding civil liberties and enabling citizens to receive the proper protection of the law
5. Reform how the ministry delivers its services
- Reform the way the Ministry of Justice works. Reassess its ways of working to develop more efficient shared services, match its provision “ever more closely” to demand, reduce duplication and streamline its functions wherever possible.
The departmental board has overall responsibility for delivery of the structural reform plan. It is chaired by the Secretary of State and its membership includes the ministerial team, the Permanent Secretary, the Director General of Finance, the Director General of “Transforming Justice” and departmental non-executive board members. It publishes progress against the plan on the 10 Downing Street website.
- ^ Budget 2011. London: HM Treasury. 2011. p. 48. Retrieved 30 December 2011.
- ^ List of Ministerial Responsibilities. London: Cabinet Office. 2010. pp. 44.
- ^ “Cabinet Office”. List of Government departments and ministers. Cabinet Office. Retrieved 22 May 2012.
- ^ “Ministry of Justice”. List of Government departments and ministers. Cabinet Office. Retrieved 22 May 2012.
- ^ “Home Office to be split in two”. BBC News Online. BBC. 29 March 2007. Retrieved 29 March 2007.
- ^ “Ministry of Justice – What we do – Crown dependencies”. Retrieved 11 November 2007.
- ^ Cabinet Office List of Government Departments and Ministers: Ministry of Justice
- ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-19475248
- ^ Cabinet Office List of Government Departments and Ministers: Office of the Leader of the House of Lords
- ^ “Structural Reform Plan”. Ministry of Justice. 10 Downing Street. Retrieved 4 April 2011.
- ^ “Ministry of Justice – Departmental Board”. Ministry of Justice. Ministry of Justice. Retrieved 14 April 2012.