Liz Truss becomes first ever female Lord Chancellor

Men have held the senior government position since it was created around a thousand years ago

Katie Forster
Thursday 21 July 2016 20:10 BST
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The new Lord Chancellor Liz Truss arrives at the Judge's entrance to the Royal Courts of Justice before being installed
The new Lord Chancellor Liz Truss arrives at the Judge's entrance to the Royal Courts of Justice before being installed (PA WIRE)

Justice Secretary Liz Truss has been sworn into office as the UK's new Lord Chancellor.

She is the first woman to hold the senior government position, which looks after the independence and functioning of the courts, in around a thousand years.

Ms Truss, 40, is the Conservative MP for South West Norfolk. She was welcomed to her new appointment by leading members of the judiciary at a colourful ceremony at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

She takes over the ancient office – famously held by Sir Thomas More and Cardinal Thomas Wolsey in Tudor times – from Michael Gove, and also replaces him as Justice Secretary.

Prime Minister Theresa May has promoted a number of women to her Cabinet, including Amber Rudd as Home Secretary and Justine Greening as Education Secretary.

Dressed in gold and black, Ms Truss took an oath and pledged to respect the rule of law, defend judicial independence and ensure effective support for the courts.

Remembering when Liz Truss gave one of the weirdest speeches ever

The country's top judges, including Supreme Court president Lord Neuberger and Master of the Rolls Lord Dyson, were present for the proceedings in a packed, oak-panelled courtroom.

Describing the occasion as “historic”, Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas said a “long-standing monopoly has been swept away, and it is plainly not before time”.

He told Ms Truss: “You are the first female Lord Chancellor. Today is an historic occasion. It marks another step in the evolution of your great office, one that has for so long formed and continues to form the fulcrum between the judiciary and government."

“It is a step long - indeed very long - overdue. We are delighted that you are here today at the Royal Courts of Justice at this significant constitutional occasion at which you have taken the oaths of office.”

He added: “My Lord Chancellor, it is readily apparent that you have had to date a most distinguished career which has demonstrated your greats skills and wide experience.”

Ms Truss said: “I am delighted to have been appointed to this role. It is a privilege and an honour for me to have been sworn in today as the first woman Lord Chancellor.”

“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.”

The mother-of-two, who was brought up in Yorkshire and studied philosophy, politics and economics at Merton College, Oxford, entered Parliament in 2010.

She served as Environment Secretary from July 2014 – a role which has now been given to Leave campaigner Andrea Leadsom.

Ms Truss is perhaps better known to some for an excruciatingly awkward speech she gave to delegates at the 2014 Conservative Party Conference on the topic of British food exports, such as tea, pork and cheese.

After introducing herself to delegates, Ms Truss continued her food-themed address with the now infamous line: “In December I'll be in Beijing, opening up pork markets,” pausing for dramatic effect after delivering this sentence.

During the same speech, she added: "We import two-thirds of our cheese. That. Is. A. Disgrace."

Previously she was deputy director at think-tank Reform and also worked in the energy and telecommunications industry for 10 years as a commercial manager and economics director.

After Chris Grayling and Mr Gove, she becomes the third non-lawyer Lord Chancellor in a row.

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