Conservative MP, Liz Truss has been sworn in as Lord Chancellor, the first woman to hold the role in its thousand-year history.
During the ceremony at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Truss pledged to respect the rule of law, defend the independence of the judiciary and provide adequate resources for the courts.
The former environment secretary has replaced Michael Gove and is the third person in a row to take on the role, despite not being a lawyer.
Speaking during the ceremony, Truss said,“I am delighted to have been appointed to this role. It’s a privilege and an honour for me to have been sworn in today as the first woman Lord Chancellor. Although, as the Lord Chief Justice has mentioned, I may not be the first woman to hold the Great Seal.”
“I am a great supporter of reform and modernisation throughout the courts and tribunals system; and that urgent task will be high on my agenda in the months ahead, as I know it is for senior members of the judiciary.”
“As the first woman Lord Chancellor, I am proud to be part of our constantly evolving justice system.”
“It is a system that evolves, from precedent to precedent, in step with society. But all the while, the fundamental principles of justice in this country remain the same.”
“The thread running through it all is the rule of law – it shaped society in the past, does so now, and will do so in the future.”
Truss’s appointment, however, has not been without controversy. Many have called into question Truss’s ability to do the job without being a lawyer. Conservative MP Bob Neill doubted whether she could ‘represent the interest of the judiciary’. Charles Falconer, former Lord Chancellor and Edward Faulks, former Conservative justice minister, have also voiced similar doubts.
Lord Pannick QC has also disputed that Truss is the first woman to occupy the role. He believes that Henry III’s wife, Queen Eleanor actually held the position back in 1253.
Speaking at the House of Lords, he said, “I should point out that, contrary to reports, Liz Truss is not the first female lord chancellor.”
“Lord Campbell, in his 19th century Lives of the Lord Chancellors included Queen Eleanor, wife of Henry III. In 1253, in the king’s absence abroad, Eleanor performed all the duties of the office, judicial as well as administrative, for the best part of a year.”