How would you describe your personal faith or ideological outlook?
I’m a practising member of the Church of England, and therefore a Christian. The outlook I think colours a lot of my views about the world I’m in. It certainly doesn’t prevent me from working or cooperating with people of other faiths and none. And it probably lies pretty squarely in what would be regarded as the mainstream Anglican tradition. It is pretty hard to define, but if you are familiar with this you will understand what I’m talking about. Anglicanism is a fairly broad church, you get Evangelical Anglicanism, which is probably its biggest growth area. There is a mainstream Anglicanism, which incorporates Evangelical Anglicanism, but also, well I worship in a rather austere Anglo-Catholic tradition, but that just happens to me my local parish church, so I don’t think it’s a particular indication. If you’re trying to place me on the spectrum I would be comfortable with women’s ordination, no problem with women bishops, although I belong to a church where some of the congregation probably feel uncomfortable with both concepts. Our vicar certainly does, because he belongs to Forward in Faith, but that doesn’t necessarily reflect the congregation’s view and we’ve never gone in for separate oversight for example.
I come from a family background which is essentially Anglican, but not particularly practising. The choice about becoming a regular church-goer is one made by my wife and myself after we married. We decided to do it and we’ve stuck with it. That gives you an idea of where we are.
Do you see GB as an Equal and Tolerant Society?
Yes, I think it is. I think Great Britain has historically been very tolerant, and I think that tolerance has almost been imprinted into its DNA. That isn’t to say that there hasn’t been discrimination against people with differing views. You only have to go back 60 or 70 years and Catholicism was seen as being at least a minority and probably a suspicious activity, even though there were lots of Catholics who were leading members of British society. And similarly there was undoubtedly discrimination against Jewish immigrants in the nineteenth century, and some of my forebears are Jewish. But when that’s been said and done, I think that because of our history, and the need to accommodate people which came out of our religious strife in the 16th and 17th century, there has been a huge level of tolerance and acceptance. I don’t think it’s for nothing that a lot of pubs are called the live and let live, but that’s what it’s all about. There has been a long tradition of equality. There has also always been an attitude of suspicion towards overt displays of religious enthusiasm. You can see that in the attitude which Anglicans took to Orangemen in the 19th century. They thought that they were disturbers of the peace in the context of Ireland. In general most people in Britain are quite comfortable with other people’s views, on the other hand you tend to get quite uncomfortable when they have excessive amounts of religion or religious views spouted to them. Now other countries in Europe will have difference traditions. But here I think that tolerance is well ingrained.
How easy is it for you to live in accordance with your faith in Great Britain?
I’ve really found no difficulty whatever in living in accordance with my Anglican, Christian beliefs in British society. I realise that there are from time to time some issues which arise in Parliament which raise ethical issues where I disagree with my colleagues. But as you will have noticed, most matters concerning ethics are automatically the subject of a free vote. There are times I appreciate when it means that my views are minority views, but then that’s what a democratic society is all about. And nor do I share this gloom which I sometimes feel is felt my some sections of the Christian community in Britain that Britain is losing its identity. Its identity is undoubtedly evolving, but the freedom to worship, the freedom to have your beliefs, the freedom to bring up your children in the beliefs which you have, subject to their freedom to have their own beliefs which will evolve with time, have never been obstructed in any way. So I am very comfortable.
How does Anglicanism regard HR? Has it contributed to their development?
Yes, it has contributed, perhaps clearly the development of HR as a distinct legal theory owes quite a lot to Christianity, it probably owes quite a lot to Humanist belief as well. The marriage of those two things and the cross-fertilisation of those things has undoubtedly been one of the main motor-forces behind the development of defined HRs. So the church has played a considerable role in it, and the development of religious tolerance combined with a review of what Christian belief is really all are about, in the light of Christ’s attitude towards others, has really been a very powerful motor-force behind the development of HR. I see it as firmly within the Christian canon, and I think that most Christian religious groups would. There are going to be some very odd ones which don’t, but it’s going to be hard to find any with any serious traction who think like that. There is a more sensitive area, where there are those who are going to argue that equality rights have led to a situation where Christians are being marginalised and there are some inevitable areas of tension between equality and the right to express your religious faith, and I think that these are always going to be there. But I think they are quite peripheral to the main issues and I don’t come across people with religious belief who disagree for example with the content of the ECHR.
Way in which the Church of England has a practical influence on HR?
Yes, the Church of England and indeed the RC Church are both very active in terms of religious tolerance worldwide, and the persecution of religious minorities. There is a bit of a focus on Christians in the Middle East at the moment, but in fairness it has also been focused on other religious groups. Indeed you could see it with the persecution of Jews in Europe in the Second World War. The church is also very active in the sphere of human dignity in a number of forms. The dignity of the old for example, which is very much at the forefront of the Church of England’s thinking, and also the rights of children. So any group which may have vulnerabilities the Anglican Communion tends to have something to say on it. And also the bishops are at times quite critical on the area of what might be called social justice, that’s a more controversial area and outside the main structure of the HRA or it only touches on it very slightly. And I think that the RC do the same and the Methodists and other smaller Christian denominations.
Are HR now generally respected by public bodies in Great Britain?
Most of the time. It’s wrong to say the public bodies never infringe HRs, one of the reasons why we needed the HRA in my view is that public bodies occasionally do infringe people’s HR. And this isn’t necessarily in the most obvious way, you get cases like the Sussex case about separating elderly couples in different care homes, without any real regard for their rights. And I certainly think that the vulnerable in society, for example people with learning difficulties who can’t necessarily speak for themselves, are on occasions perhaps the victims of inadvertent but nevertheless serious breaches of the their HR for the sake of bureaucratic convenience for example. Are the basic tenets of HR as set out in the ECHR observed from top to bottom, yes they are. That’s not to say that there aren’t exceptions. Police officers may misbehaviour and do bad things to detainees, as may prison officers and from time to time you get bad examples. But is the system geared to uphold HRs? Yes it is. And you can see with the Ministerial Code, so actually civil servants and ministers are being told that the observance of HR is one of the central tenets of government.
Does the State get the level of intervention right?
The State certainly has some challenging areas it has to deal with. We have never adopted the model of the secular state as exists in France and of course if you adopt the model of the secular state then you start having a whole series of problems about the way in which the secular state impacts upon all sorts of religious groups and their beliefs. The British approach has historically been to accept that there is a religious element in many people’s lives, and in so far as it is in line with what you might call propriety and the general public interest, it will be furthered. But inevitably this creates the potential for all sorts of problems. I’ll give you an example, in my own constituency, my colleagues in the Department for Education have just facilitated the opening of a Sikh free school in my constituency. But that Sikh free school, if it succeeds, is also intended to be a local community school in an area where probably only ten percent are Sikh, the majority of the community aren’t Sikh and on top of that the local Sikh community don’t necessarily agree with the religious ethos of the Sikh Free School. Now this is undoubtedly creating some quite interesting problems. And some people are arguing locally that they are being forced to send their children to a school which doesn’t accord with their own religious and philosophical outlook. We haven’t historically have had that sort of problem with Anglican schools. That may be because the Anglican tradition is different and the Church of England has been very careful about making sure that there is inclusivity within its school setting.
But this is a classic area where the State’s activities can create tension. But that is not to say that the State is intended to do that. It’s just a consequence of the way in which State policy has developed in trying to be inclusive and include religious faiths in some State activities, including education, the delivery of social services, the use of faith groups to deliver services in the voluntary sector but which are actually paid for by the State. These are examples of areas which can create problems. But not intentional problems, because the alternative is to exclude these groups, which isn’t desirable.
When in your view should the State intervene?
The State has a duty, in furthering what it sees as the public interest, to try to ensure that certain norms of behaviour which are approved by Parliament are being respected. And this manifests itself in the way in which we manage divorce, in the care of children and the limits to which children can be exposed to the religious views of their parents which might be regarded as being in some way inimical to their child’s development and to society. And finally, we have to accept that there are limits placed on people’s religious practices, in so far as those religious practices are felt to be harmful or damaging or criminal. On the whole those are kept to a minimum, but certainly they do exist, if you want to set up a devil worshipping sect in this country which believes in the slaughter of the first born, I think that you are going to have a bit of problem observing the norms of your beliefs. But on the whole and as most religions have a rational and humane basis, it tends to be capable of being reconciled with the law in Britain.
Does living in a Parliamentary Democracy make it easier or harder to live in accordance with your Anglican faith? Is there any form of government which you would prefer?
Completely happy with living in a Parliamentary democracy. Clearly some people have on occasion argued that modern societies with their complexity mean that it would be better if we had a written constitution. It’s a legitimate argument, but I fail to see that in practice it would deliver a better outcome than the one we’ve got. The point about Parliamentary democracy is that it provides a constant forum for moderating people’s views. So as I sometimes say when I go to address Sixth Forms, Parliamentary Democracy is not about the majority imposing their will on the minority, but about minorities accepting majority decisions. And that the measure of Parliamentary Democracy’s success. And that not to say that it always works, we don’t have Parliamentary Democracy in the government of Northern Ireland and that’s because in fact it’s proved to be impossible to reconcile competing interests when people are very fearful of each other. So there are limits. But there are limits to all forms of democracy, and if you had a written constitution, you’d still have the problems.
Does your faith mean that you feel that you have a personal responsibility to vote?
Yes, I mean there may be some Anglicans who don’t but personally I do, partly because Anglicanism is so well rooted within the texture of the State, despite the diminution in the number of people who describe themselves as practising members of the Church of England. Nevertheless, it is a church which is heavily involved in the affairs of the State. I don’t think we can escape that. And one of its manifestations is that I would have thought that most Anglicans are very keen on voting.
Is it a good or a bad thing that the democratically elected Parliament has the final say in making and changing law?
It’s entirely in accordance with our national tradition. Equally, it’s right to say that Parliamentary Sovereignty can be taken to absurd reasonings. If Parliament next week were to decide to order everybody here to worship the moon, and it could get it through the House of Lords and the Queen was prepared to sign in off then in theory, Parliament has the power to do that. In practice it’s fanciful, which is why I sometimes say to my colleagues that the doctrine of Parliamentary Sovereignty can be taken to absurd lengths. It is really about Parliament’s supremacy over the executive, that is how it developed as a theory in the seventeenth century and I think its role can be exaggerated. However, it does mean that Parliament has the final say, it’s not judges as in the US constitution. Although of course the US can change its constitution. But as long as it hasn’t…….
But this is what people in Britain are comfortable with, and I think that they are always a bit worried about individuals who aren’t accountable within the Parliamentary setting having excessive power to regulate people’s lives and I think in fairness our judiciary are also very conscious that it’s an area in which it’s not very desirable for them to stray. And they try to avoid doing it. It’s right that the Human Right Act has pushed the judiciary more into that forum than they were previously. But I think that it’s a perfectly comfortable environment, with some tensions, but comfortable. I wouldn’t wish to see the current position change. If the position does end up changing it won’t be because of religion. It will probably be because of devolution, which I think does chuck up problems and arguments for an unwritten constitution, even though the devolution Acts themselves provide a regulatory framework, it’s not quite the same as having a Constitution to resolve disagreements.
Do you think that Parliamentary Democracy is sufficiently inclusive? Would you say that it is more difficult for some groups than other to participate?
Participation in voting terms is open to everybody. Actually, participating in political terms is open to people pretty readily. If you want to put up a candidate at an election, all you need to do is to get the signatures of the number of people you want to nominate you. We have a party system, and it’s true that a consequence of the party system that it has the capacity to exclude people. Interestingly, it’s also true that it has the capacity to include a wide number of people, because traditionally the two or two and a half party system which we’ve had in this country has tended to mean that the two parties are very broad in their appeal. Interesting challenge at the moment about the growth of hung parliaments and minority parties. If that continues it may call into question the first past the post, Westminster model and some people argue that by not having proportional representation we do get some voices within the political system that are essentially excluded because they’re such small minorities. On the other hand, I’m not sure that the Israeli system commends itself to me, because then you find that everybody is in hock to very small groups. I think that the move towards PR may remain an open question, even though the public rejected the alternative vote, which isn’t really PR, but they certainly rejected it in 2011, very decisively. So my personal view is that people are broadly happy with it.
If people wish to engage in politics in this country, unless they have views which are very curious, they will be able to express those views through the mainstream political parties, which are very broad in their diversity. You only have to look at the make-up of Parliament to see within the Conservative or Labour party with individuals who are then able to get into Parliament and express them.
Is it problematic that members of the House of Lords are not elected?
I don’t, because ultimately the role of the House of Lords is to be a revising Chamber. If we were to have an elected House of Lords, and we could, then we would need either a very tight constitutional framework to prevent it being anything other than a revising chamber, or we will be setting up a second chamber in rivalry and potentially opposition to the Commons. I think that there are lots of things which could be improved in the House of Lords. I think that the system of appointment of peers could be reformed, although government has shown itself reluctant to do it. I think that a cap on the total numbers is needed. And interestingly, we could look at whether there should be a date at which members cease to serve, although I have to say that there are some very elderly peers who do a very good job. That said, I don’t have any problem with an appointed second chamber, for the purpose which the House of Lords actually fulfils.
What is your view of the Lords Spiritual and representatives from other faith groups?
I think that my answer to this if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I think that the twenty six bishops in the House of Lords play a very important role in the House of Lords, in representing wider faith view points in the national conversation which takes place in Parliament. I’ve yet to come across a Muslim who is unhappy about there being bishops in the House of Lords. There have been efforts to appoint representatives from other groups…..ex chief rabbis, the Roman Catholics don’t want to do it as a matter of policy, I respect that. There are ex senior Methodists. There are an increasing number of Muslims with a faith interest. I’m very keen on that, I think we should continue with it. But do I want to get rid of the bishops? No, I see no need to for it at all. I see their presence as benign and actually rather valuable. And as long as we have an Established Church and disestablishment is actually a rather difficult thing to bring about and I’m not sure desirable. There is a problem, unless the United Kingdom were to move to a new constitutional structure probably based on a written constitution.
Actually the religious aspects of the State are one of its central keystones, because it underpins its ethics. We all take oaths of office. I know you can affirm, but ultimately, the system of the UK, certainly in England, but I think also in Scotland, is that everybody is there to serve the Monarch in the discharge of their coronation oath. And that’s a religious promise. It may be that very few people appreciate this, but that is what the system is all about. If you don’t want it, you’re going to have to substitute something else.
Do public authorities try to respect Parliamentary legislation?
I can’t immediately think of public bodies ignoring legislation. Clearly the national executive may sometimes not ignore legislation, but seek to finesse it. Ultimately they can be legally challenged if they seek to do something which is wrong. But with a smaller public authorities, the risk to them is that they will be judicially reviewed. If you look at the judicial reviews which have taken place on an annual basis you can see examples of local authorities flouting statute, but that is going to happen anyway, because interpretation can be difficult. But deliberately flouting statute…there were periods in the 1980s when some authorities tried not to collect poll tax. But these were little flashes in the pan. I can’t actually really think of examples of deliberately ignoring Parliament, because if you do you are going to come unstuck pretty quickly.
Is it good or bad that some decisions effecting the United Kingdom are made by E.U. institutions or devolved administrations?
Well, it’s clearly capable of being criticised in the way it operates. Some would argue that the EU doesn’t operate in accordance with the treaties, certainly when I was AG I can think of a number of examples where I thought that the European Commission’s interpretation was wrong and on occasion I’ve disagreed with the European Court of Justice. But the moment you have a supranational organisation you have to operate within in, reform it or pull out. Those are national choices, sovereignty still remains at Westminster and with the public, it’s just a question of the extent to which people are prepared to take a risk, or accept the consequences of leaving. Devolution is slightly different, because in theory, devolution comes from Westminster and can be taken back, I think in practice that’s probably not the case, once it’s been initiated. The Scottish referendum had the implication that despite the wording of the Act of Union, the Union is capable of being brought to an end if the Scottish people wanted it.
But in reality I think that the Union has always had voluntary elements to it, at least in respect of Scotland and Northern Ireland; Wales may be a slightly different issue. But I think there’s an understanding of that in Westminster. So I think that if there are problems thrown up by all of that, but I don’t get upset by it, Westminster took the decision to go along with both.
What does your Anglican faith teach you about people who exercise power?
This country has never really believed in the Separation of Powers. Poor old Montesquieu came over and found that the judiciary were independent, which was astonishing, because in France they were the mere creatures of the administration and he was so shocked by this that he thought there was a Separation of Powers. But actually in many respects there isn’t. Although in reality is our judiciary independent? Well yes of course it is. But judicial appointments are subject to a level of Parliamentary scrutiny or approval and power is ultimately wielded by the Queen in Parliament. Is terms of religion and the State is there a Separation of Powers? Well yes in practice, but not in theory because of the things we were talking about.
So, I’m not sure I get very hung up on the question of the Separation of Powers. The question is, do we have judicial and parliamentary independence? Is Parliament capable of exercising independence from the Executive? Yes it is, it can bring the executive down. Are the judiciary independent in the way in which they carry out their work? I’ve never seen anyone seriously suggest that there isn’t complete judicial independence in this country. Are there points of contact between all the pillars that underpin the State? Yes there are, and I think that’s quite important. It must be possible to have a degree of conversation. The Lord Chief Justice if he wants can meet with the Prime Minister to discuss problems affecting the judiciary, and we know that that happens. It’s not something which is unpublished or un-minuted, it’s not some secret conversation. So I don’t get too troubled about the Separation of Powers in its strictest sense.
Do you think that your religious group is proportionately represented?
Are there enough Anglicans? You see the interesting thing is I don’t think that in the context of the House of Commons, it has ever crossed my mind to carry out a survey of people’s religious beliefs. Of course I know that some of my colleagues in Parliaments are quite devout Catholics and that is likely to colour their viewpoint if you have votes on abortion. And I also know who are my fellow Christians who are likely on issues of ethics are likely to usually have the same answer, but not always. Take for example the vote on mitochondrial DNA, that showed quite a wide variety of views from people who were absolutely opposed to people who were prepared to vote for it. And people were opposed for different reasons. One was the sort pointed out by the Anglican bishops, which was that they weren’t opposed in principle but were concerned in practice that they didn’t think the detail had been thought through. Or people who were opposed absolutely. So the truth is I haven’t the slightest clue what the religious representation is. I go once a month to a Holy Communion service in St Margaret’s, and that brings together about twenty of us, including the House of Lords. Very small, so you could say that Anglicans are under-represented! But it probably just means that lots of my other colleagues who may happen to be Anglicans are just too busy. Do we distinguish in Parliament between Christians of different denominations? Not much. You could argue that with the 26 bishops in the House of Lords the Church of England has got a surprising representation in view of its overall statistical adherence, but then people are culturally Christian, culturally Anglican but may only go to weddings and funerals or special occasions. As we saw yesterday with people flocking into a service because there was a horrible accident in Bath; the church was filling up with people who otherwise wouldn’t go.
But I just don’t really see it as an issue. I don’t think that the way in which politics is debated in the House of Commons can be seen to have any religious underpinning. Of course religion suffuses culture and we are culturally a Christian country, interpreted through Anglicanism, but it is not what underpins debate. The issues don’t often lend themselves anyway to applying Christian ethics to them.
Are you happy with the current checks and balances on the exercise of Parliamentary power?
Well I think for the reasons I gave earlier, I am. And I don’t share the concerns of some of my colleagues over what they see as the development of excessive judicial power through the Human Rights Act or indeed Equality legislation. All of this comes through Parliament and what Parliament gives Parliament can, technically at least, take away. But no, I find that the environment and tensions which exist constructive ones, it doesn’t trouble me.
In your experience as an individual, have public bodies shown sufficient respect for your personal spiritual needs and beliefs?
Yes, but then I’m in quite a privileged position. I am aware, there’s no doubt that some of the interpretations of public order and equality legislation, interpreted not by the courts but by public authorities, interfering with benevolent intentions but interfering nevertheless I think in a way that at times has been improper, has had an impact on people with religious faith. To take an example, I had a street preacher who was my constituent who liked to stand on a soap-box in High Wycombe and tell people that they had to repent and that if they didn’t they would go to Hell. And he was told by the police that they had no objection to the first part of it, but that it was a public order offence to threaten people with Hell. I think they arrested him, the CPS agreed it was absolutely wrong to have done so, but you do get that. And there are some people, who because of their own views, which are often aggressively secularist, do try to use equality laws and public order offences to try to argue for sort of pushing religion out of the public space. Again, that is an inevitable area of tension in a democratic society and I’m not worried about it. I don’t think that we’re on a slippery slope. But there are such examples. But do I as a Member of Parliament and a former government minister feel that my Anglicanism is being forced out or my private space being invaded? Not at all.
Is it important for you personally to act within secular law?
I think there can be no doubt that there may be occasions when one is justified in breaking the law, but they’re not the laws of the United Kingdom as I see them at the moment. But clearly, if this country were to fall into the hands of a tyrannical regime, even with a majority, then I think that there might be circumstances when it is permissible to break the law if the law requires you to behave in a way you regard as wholly unethical. And of course there is a long tradition within Christianity, and indeed of other religions of passive resistance to what they consider improper law. Apartheid is one example which springs to mind.
So, laws are manmade constructs, so they can be flawed or improper. But I think that breaking the law is a very serious step to take, because ultimately law is the framework which governs our relations and provides security to people, so if you start breaking the law you can creating a climate of insecurity. And so you’ve got to think through what the consequences of your actions are going to be, so in normal circumstances the law should be observed. But there are possible circumstances, and not just because we live in a democratic society it doesn’t mean that if the democracy turns sour on you and the majority start doing terrible things that you would be disentitled ethically and morally from breaking the law.
Would you say that at present the Rule of Law is applied equally to all citizens in Great Britain?
I think the Rule of Law broadly speaking is applied fairly. There are some bizarre anomalies. Many of them come from attempts to respect people’s scruples, for example the decision many years ago that Sikhs did not have to wear crash helmets. They alone of all groups in society! So the law is not totally equal in the way it deals with people. There are arguments put forward by some of my constituents that the more people are demanding the more we grant concessions. There is a debate at the moment, for example, about Halal and Kosher butchery. Parliament on the whole believes that animals should be stunned before slaughter, but there are exceptions. But is the Rule of Law applied without discrimination, or at least apart from discrimination authorised by Parliament for some positive reason? Yes it is and we are very fortunate.
How do you feel about the developments which have effectively extended police powers in general?
I think it’s been at least in part a concerning development, of course it’s been prompted by a greater sense of insecurity. And as has happened before, because this isn’t unique in British history, after all we repealed Habeas Corpus in the early 19th century. It was argued that it had to come back and it did. But we also got rid of it in the Second World War. So at times when people feel under threat, civil liberties which we enjoy get put under the microscope and at times they get restricted. Does that make me comfortable? No, because I think that we need to be very vigilant to ensure that this isn’t some kind of permanent creep. And as you know I was involved in challenging 40 day and 90 day pre-charge detention. We have increased police powers, but we have at times moved back. Stop and search powers, the retention of DNA for people who have not been convicted has been got rid of. So there is a conversation taking place. In an ideal world, I would like the world we live in to be a safer place, with less anxiety about terrorism. And if that were the case it would be possible to review quite a few of the laws which we currently have on the statute book and I would be the first to open the bottle of champagne and celebrate when that happens. But whilst there have been occasions when governments have overreacted and done things which have been disproportionate. On the whole the things which governments have tried to do have had rational justifications.
Are there any legal rules which restrict your personal freedom to act as you would otherwise choose?
Interesting question, I’m sure I will think of something after you’ve gone. But actually, I can’t think of anything right not…..let’s put it this way, it’s not a sufficient irritation that I think about it on a daily basis. Where there are things which irritate me it’s often health and safety, and I can see why it has been brought in. I can think of anything I would campaign to change, to that extent I am a contented citizen.
Is there anything which you would like to add?
I don’t think so. Clearly one of the themes of contemporary Britain is its plurality. The growth of pluralism has been going on for a long time. We haven’t been a confessional state since the 1820s and even then it was a confessional state which accepted that there were one or two people who didn’t share in the confessional beliefs and we had a series of dodges to, up to a point, accommodate them. But there’s no doubt that over the last forty years has seen us move extraordinarily swiftly, at least in belief terms. There were beliefs which didn’t even exist…..I mean there are pagans now around. There was a pagan in the navy who was allowed to keep some pagan paraphernalia in a cupboard. I think he was actually a devil worshipper, bizarrely. These are rather startling. And I think because of this, society is feeling its way as to what the limits of accommodation are. And there are some activities in society which remain, rightly, beyond the pale. If someone wanted to set up a religion which believed in paedophilia they would not go very far in terms of being allowed to practice their beliefs.
That is the big the change, and because of it a challenge to some of the assumptions on which society has traditionally been based. But I don’t think that society is collapsing because of it at all. On the contrary, in certain areas you can see that despite this plurality there is in fact fundamental ethical views which are shared, and probably strengthened by the fact that they are seen to be shared and accepted by such diverse groups of people. That is clearly a challenging area and nobody is certain what is going to happen next. It is a diverse world, but then the world globally is probably moving in that direction despite examples to the contrary.
Dominic Grieve was first elected as MP for Beaconsfield in 1997, entering Parliament from a career as a barrister and having served as a councillor in Hammersmith and in the Territorial Army. He was appointed to the opposition front bench in 1999 as spokesman on Constitutional affairs and moved to the Home affairs team covering criminal justice in 2001 before being made shadow Attorney General by Michael Howard in 2003. In 2008 he was made shadow Home Secretary and shadow Justice Secretary in 2009. After the General Election of 2010 he was appointed a Privy Councillor and Attorney General holding that office until July 2014. Mr Grieve is currently a member of the Standards and Privileges Committee of the House of Commons. In September 2015, Mr Grieve was elected Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee.
His work in Parliament on civil liberties and the Rule of Law was recognised by two awards – Parliamentarian of the Year in 2005 and in 2014 by a Lifetime Achievement award from Liberty. He has specialised on issues relating to Law and Order, civil liberties and international affairs as well as having an interest in environmental issues.
He is married to Caroline, also a barrister and they have two sons at university. He has been a deputy church warden. He is bilingual in French, enjoys mountain walking, scuba diving, skiing and architecture in his spare time.