Select Committee on the Constitution
The roles of the Lord Chancellor and the Law Officers

9th Report of Session 2022-23 - published 18 January 2023 - HL Paper 118


Chapter 1: Introduction

This inquiry


Constitutional Reform Act 2005 and creation of the Ministry of Justice

Office of Attorney General

Legal advice and representation


Other functions

Attempts at reform


Chapter 2: The rule of law

What is the rule of law?

Box 1: Suggested definitions of “the rule of law”

Lord Bingham’s definition

Box 2: Lord Bingham’s eight principles

International law

Domestic v international law

Is it ever permissible for states to ignore international obligations?

Ministerial Code and international law

Chapter 3: The rule of law—Government actors

Lord Chancellor: rule of law duties

A narrow or wide conception?

Lord Chancellor: protection of the judiciary

‘Enemies of the People’

Law Officers

Law Officers: a wider rule of law function?

A respectable legal argument?

Publication of advice

Chapter 4: Reform of the role of Lord Chancellor

Lord Chancellor’s status

Qualification by experience

Box 3: Constitutional Reform Act 2005, section 2

Tenure in office

Lord Chancellor as Secretary of State for Justice and Deputy Prime Minister

Secretary of State for Justice

Deputy Prime Minister

Lord Chancellor as Minister for the Constitution

Judicial appointments

Box 4: The Lord Chancellor’s power to reject or request reconsideration of nomination for judicial appointments

The Lord Chancellor as a member of the House of Lords

Chapter 5: Reform of the role of the Law Officers

Law Officers as politicians

Legal advice

Individual decisions to prosecute


Public interest

The political model

Law Officers’ qualifications

Membership of the House of Commons or the House of Lords

Chapter 6: Codification, guidance and accountability

Amendments to the Ministerial Code and Cabinet Manual

Placing the Ministerial Code on a statutory footing

Should the Attorney General be a member of Cabinet?

Reform of the Lord Chancellor and Law Officers’ oaths

Lord Chancellor

Law Officers

Summary of conclusions and recommendations

Appendix 1: List of Members and declarations of interest

Appendix 2: List of witnesses

Appendix 3: Call for evidence

Evidence is published online at and available for inspection at the Parliamentary Archives (020 7219 3074).

Q in footnotes refers to a question in oral evidence.

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