Robert Buckland
Official portrait of Rt Hon Robert Buckland MP crop 2.jpg
Official portrait, 2020
Secretary of State for Wales
Assumed office
7 July 2022
Prime MinisterBoris Johnson
Liz Truss
Preceded bySimon Hart
Secretary of State for Justice
Lord Chancellor
In office
24 July 2019 – 15 September 2021
Prime MinisterBoris Johnson
Preceded byDavid Gauke
Succeeded byDominic Raab
Minister of State for Prisons
In office
9 May 2019 – 24 July 2019
Prime MinisterTheresa May
Preceded byRory Stewart
Succeeded byLucy Frazer
Solicitor General for England and Wales
In office
15 July 2014 – 9 May 2019
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Theresa May
Preceded byOliver Heald
Succeeded byLucy Frazer
Member of Parliament
for South Swindon
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded byAnne Snelgrove
Majority6,625 (13.1%)
Personal details
Born
Robert James Buckland

(1968-09-22) 22 September 1968 (age 53)
Llanelli, Wales
Political partyConservative
Child2
EducationSt Michael's School, Llanelli
Alma materInns of Court School of Law
Durham University
ProfessionBarrister, recorder
Websiterobertbuckland.co.uk

Sir Robert James Buckland KBE KC (born 22 September 1968) is a British politician serving as Secretary of State for Wales since July 2022. He previously served as Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor from 2019 to 2021. A member of the Conservative Party, he has been Member of Parliament (MP) for South Swindon since 2010.

Buckland was Solicitor General for England and Wales from 2014 to 2019 and Minister of State for Prisons from May to July 2019. He was appointed Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor by Boris Johnson in July 2019, serving until the cabinet reshuffle in September 2021. In July 2022 he was appointed Secretary of State for Wales.

Early life and career

Buckland was born on 22 September 1968 in Llanelli, Wales. He was educated at Old Road County Primary School (Welsh: Ysgol yr Hen Heol) and then at St Michael's School, Llanelli (Welsh: Ysgol Sant Mihangel).

He studied at Hatfield College, University of Durham, where he became Secretary of the Junior Common Room and President of the Durham Union Society in Michaelmas term 1989.[1] He graduated in Law in 1990, and the following year was called to the bar at the Inner Temple.[2]

Buckland practised as a barrister in Wales from 1992 to 2010,[3] specialising in criminal law in the Crown Court at Swansea, Cardiff, Merthyr and Newport. [4] He was appointed as a recorder in 2009, sitting as a part-time judge in the Crown Court.[4] He was appointed Queen's Counsel in 2014 on becoming Solicitor General and a Master of the Bench at Inner Temple.[5]

Entry into politics

Buckland stood as the Conservative Party candidate for Elli ward on Dyfed County Council in May 1993, winning the seat from Labour with a majority of just 3 votes. It was reported that he was the first Conservative "in living memory" to have been elected in the Llanelli area.[6] Following local government reorganisation, the Elli Ward became part of the unitary Carmarthenshire County Council and Buckland stood again in 1995 where he lost to the Labour candidate by over 200 votes.[7]

In 1994, Buckland stood unsuccessfully as the Conservative Party candidate for the safe Labour European Parliament seat of South Wales West. The following year he stood unsuccessfully as the Conservative Party candidate for the safe Labour parliamentary seat of Islwyn in the by-election caused by the appointment of the sitting MP Neil Kinnock as a European Commissioner. This by-election was held at a time of unpopularity for the Conservative government, and was comfortably won by the Labour candidate Don Touhig, Buckland polling only 3.9% of the vote.

He went on to stand unsuccessfully for the Conservative Party as their candidate for Preseli Pembrokeshire at the 1997 general election. He was on the Conservative Party list of candidates for Wales at the 1999 European elections, but was again unsuccessful.

In 2005, Buckland was selected as the Conservative Party's prospective Parliamentary candidate for South Swindon, replacing the constituency's former MP Simon Coombs. At the 2005 general election, Buckland lost to Labour candidate Anne Snelgrove, who polled 17,534 votes to his 16,181, a narrow majority of 1,353 votes.

Parliamentary career

Cameron-Clegg ministry

Following defeat in 2005, Buckland won the South Swindon seat at the 2010 general election with a majority of 3,544 votes. This represented a swing of 5.51% to the Conservatives. He obtained 19,687 votes, (41.8% of the total) compared to 16,143 votes for Snelgrove.

In 2010, Buckland was elected to the Justice Select Committee. In 2012, Buckland along with fellow Tory MP Stuart Andrew, called for prisoners' mobile phones to be destroyed or sold to raise money for victims' charities, saying that mobiles in prison were a "menace" and that selling them would provide a service to the country, as it costs £20,000 a year to store criminals' phones. They were both supported by Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Legal Aid and Legal Services Jeremy Wright and Shadow Secretary of State for Justice Sadiq Khan.[8] He chaired the All Party Group on Autism from 2011 to 2014 and was an officer of the all-party group on Speech, Language and Communication.

On 4 December 2012 Buckland was elected Joint Secretary of the influential 1922 Backbench Committee. He was also Chair of the Conservative Human Rights Commission from 2011 to 2014. He sat on the Standards Committee and the Privileges Committee from 2012 to 2014. He also served on the Joint Committee on Human Rights from 2013 to 2014 and the Joint Committee on Privacy and Superinjunctions which was convened from 2011 to 2012.[9]

On 15 July 2014, Buckland was appointed Solicitor General for England and Wales, replacing Oliver Heald as part of a wide-ranging Government reshuffle.[10]

As Solicitor General, Buckland took the Serious Crime Bill 2014 (now the Serious Crime Act 2015) through its Commons stages in Bill Committee. The Bill contained provisions that, amongst other things, updated the criminal law of child neglect and introduced a criminal offence of coercive control of people within close relationships in a domestic context. As a backbencher, he had campaigned on these issues. In 2015, he worked with Home Office Minister James Brokenshire to take the Immigration Bill through its Commons stages. In 2016, he successfully helped to take the Investigatory Powers Bill through its Commons stages.

His appointment as Solicitor General for England and Wales in July 2014 attracted media attention after it was revealed he had been found guilty of professional misconduct by the Bar Standards Board in 2011. He had headed up an investigation in 2008 into a racially motivated attack at a school at which he was a governor. Despite having no legal grounds to do so, Buckland sought to obtain documents relating to the incident that were held by a barrister representing one of the pupils involved.[11] In response, the attorney general's office stated that Buckland's breach had been "minor" and that the finding "was removed from the Bar records after two years and therefore Mr Buckland was not required to declare it upon appointment as Solicitor General."[12]

In February 2015, it was reported that Buckland was one of a number of individuals investing in the Invicta Film Partnership, which HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) had alleged to be a tax avoidance scheme. This followed a tax tribunal that had ruled that two film partnership schemes were being used primarily for tax avoidance rather than for business purposes and that the investors were not therefore entitled to the claimed tax relief. Buckland responded that he had not attempted to avoid tax and his investments were a matter of public record. He argued his financial adviser had looked into the companies and found them to be completely beyond reproach.[13]

Cameron ministry

In the 2015 general election, Buckland retained his seat with an increased majority of 5,785 votes, a swing of 2.2% to the Conservatives and an increase of 4.5% in the Conservative vote.

In January 2016, the Labour Party unsuccessfully proposed an amendment in Parliament that would have required private landlords to make their homes "fit for human habitation". According to Parliament's register of interests, Buckland was one of 72 Conservative MPs who voted against the amendment who personally derived an income from renting out property. The Conservative Government had responded to the amendment that they believed homes should be fit for human habitation but did not want to pass the new law that would explicitly require it.[14]

In 2016 it was reported that his preference was to remain in the EU. [15]

May ministry

Buckland's official portrait, 2017
Buckland's official portrait, 2017

In the 2017 general election, Buckland again held his seat, but with a decreased majority of 2,484 votes, a swing of 3.5% to Labour but with an increase of 8.9% in the Conservative vote.

In May 2019, Buckland was appointed as Minister of State for Prisons at the Ministry of Justice in succession to Rory Stewart who had been appointed as Secretary of State for International Development. Buckland was replaced as Solicitor General for England and Wales by Lucy Frazer.

Secretary of State for Justice

On 24 July 2019, Buckland was appointed Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor by incoming Prime Minister Boris Johnson. He was sworn in as a Member of the Privy Council the next day. He was the second Lord Chancellor from Llanelli, after Lord Elwyn-Jones (1974–1979).[16]

He said that he had considerable relevant experience[17] and expressed an intention to "help drive through a massive program [sic] of change".[18]

A week after being sworn, in an interview for The Times newspaper, he expressed the opinion that suspects accused of serious crimes should be granted anonymity if the accusations threatened their reputation, stating "let's say you are a reputable local business person who is accused of fraud. Your good name is going to be really undermined by this mere accusation. That might be a meritorious case for anonymity."[19] In response to the interview, Ian Murray, director of the Society of Editors, stated said it was "absurd to suggest that in a liberal democracy we are going to create a system of justice that enables the rich, the powerful and celebrities to be protected when they are under investigation for serious crimes but the ordinary man or woman would be offered no such protections." Buckland's opinion was rejected by a Government spokesman, who confirmed "this is not government policy", and the Ministry of Justice, which confirmed "this isn't departmental policy" and stated that Buckland would not be giving further interviews on the subject, which would now be handled by Downing Street.[20]

In the House of Commons Buckland sat on the Speaker's Advisory Committee on Works of Art, Statutory Instruments (Select and Joint Committees), Standards and Privileges Committee, Privacy and Injunctions (Joint Committee), Consolidation Bills (Joint Committee), Justice Committee and Human Rights (Joint Committee).[21]

At the 2019 Conservative Party Conference, Buckland set out plans to ensure that sexual and violent offenders would be required to serve two-thirds of their sentence, as opposed to half.[22]

In December 2019, Buckland was re-elected as MP for Swindon South for a fourth time with an increased majority of 6,625, a swing of 4.1% from Labour.

In January 2020 Buckland announced he wished to open a new prison in Wales, despite the recent withdrawal of plans for a 1,600 prisoner "category C super-prison" in Port Talbot.[16] The proposal came after Boris Johnson's plan to create a further 10,000 prison places in England and Wales.[23] The BBC at the time cited Cardiff University and Wales Governance Centre research which found Wales has "the highest imprisonment rate in western Europe".[16]

In September 2020 Buckland stated on The Andrew Marr Show that he would resign only if the UK Internal Market Bill broke the law "in a way I find unacceptable". Buckland defended plans to potentially override the EU withdrawal agreement as an emergency Brexit "insurance policy". He said he hoped powers being sought by ministers in the Internal Market Bill would never be needed, as a solution could be found with the EU.[24]

Buckland oversaw a UK prison management response to the COVID-19 pandemic which increased the time prisoners spent in their cells, but achieved what were seen as low infection rates.[25]

On 15 September 2021, Buckland was sacked as Justice Secretary after Johnson reshuffled his cabinet.[26]

Secretary of State for Wales

He was reinstated into Johnson's cabinet on 7 July 2022 when he succeeded Simon Hart as Secretary of State for Wales.[27]

On 13 August, Buckland wrote an article in The Daily Telegraph, changing his support from Rishi Sunak to Liz Truss in the 2022 Conservative Party leadership election.[28]

On 6 September 2022, he was re-appointed by Prime Minister Liz Truss.[29]

Awards

In 2011, Buckland was awarded the "Politician of the Year Award" by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists for his campaigning work on speech, language and communication issues.[citation needed]

In January 2013, Buckland was awarded the "Grassroot Diplomat Initiative Award" under the Social Driving category for his extensive work on advocating awareness at Parliament for children with special educational needs, including those with autism both locally and nationally.[30]

He was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) in the 2022 Political Honours.[31]

Personal life

Buckland is married to Sian, whom he met at university. They had twins in 2002, and live in Wroughton in his Wiltshire constituency. Buckland's interests include music, wine, political history and watching rugby and cricket.[32][33] Buckland has a cat, named "Mrs Landingham" after a character on The West Wing.[34]

References

  1. ^ "About Robert". Robert Buckland QC MP. Archived from the original on 4 June 2019. Retrieved 11 March 2018.
  2. ^ "About Robert". Robert Buckland. Archived from the original on 23 November 2015. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  3. ^ "Buckland replaces Gauke". New Law Journal. Archived from the original on 22 December 2019. Retrieved 22 December 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Robert Buckland QC speech: Modernising Criminal Justice Conference 2019". Archived from the original on 22 December 2019. Retrieved 22 December 2019.
  5. ^ Phillip Taylor MBE (26 October 2015). "What the modern Solicitor General does as a government officer in 2015". The Barrister Magazine. Archived from the original on 23 November 2015.
  6. ^ Castle, Stephen; Birnberg, Ariadne (9 February 1997). "The Cabinet of Tomorrow?". The Independent. Archived from the original on 21 June 2013.
  7. ^ "Carmarthenshire Council Election Results 1995–2012" (PDF). Plymouth University. Archived (PDF) from the original on 11 December 2017. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  8. ^ "MP bids to allow prisoners' mobile phones to be sold off". BBC News. 14 September 2012. Archived from the original on 21 October 2012. Retrieved 17 October 2012.
  9. ^ "Robert Buckland MP". UK Parliament. Archived from the original on 20 December 2015. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  10. ^ Graham, Georgia (15 July 2014). "Cabinet reshuffle: after the sackings, the ministerial promotions". Telegraph. Archived from the original on 25 November 2015.
  11. ^ "Buckland appointment 'an insult to lawyers'". lawgazette.co.uk. 21 July 2014. Archived from the original on 18 July 2020. Retrieved 18 July 2020.
  12. ^ "Law minister Robert Buckland was censured for code breach". BBC News. 20 July 2014. Archived from the original on 16 November 2021. Retrieved 16 November 2021.
  13. ^ "Robert Buckland: Tory law officer has money in film partnership that is being investigated by HMRC". Independent. 9 February 2015. Archived from the original on 19 September 2018. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  14. ^ "Tories vote down law requiring landlords make their homes fit for human habitation". Independent. 9 November 2012. Archived from the original on 18 June 2022. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  15. ^ "EU vote: Where the cabinet and other MPs stand". BBC News. 22 June 2016. Retrieved 11 July 2022.
  16. ^ a b c Williams, James (19 January 2020). "Justice secretary 'would love' extra Welsh prison". Archived from the original on 12 July 2020. Retrieved 19 January 2020.
  17. ^ "Sophy Ridge on Sunday Interview with Robert Buckland Justice Minister". www.skygroup.sky. Archived from the original on 8 July 2022. Retrieved 14 June 2020.
  18. ^ "Robert Buckland MP gives first print interview as justice secretary". Swindon Advertiser. Archived from the original on 28 July 2019. Retrieved 14 June 2020.
  19. ^ Ames, Jonathan (31 July 2019). "Suspects in sex crimes 'should be anonymous'". The Times. Archived from the original on 1 August 2019. Retrieved 1 August 2019.(subscription required)
  20. ^ Elgot, Jessica (1 August 2019). "No 10 rebuffs new minister's backing for pre-charge anonymity". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 1 August 2019. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  21. ^ "Robert Buckland". Parliament UK. Archived from the original on 19 September 2018. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  22. ^ "Swindon MP Robert Buckland to set out violent prisoner plans at Conservative conference". The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald. 1 October 2019. Archived from the original on 25 October 2019. Retrieved 25 October 2019.
  23. ^ "PM plans prison places and extends stop-and-search". 11 August 2019. Archived from the original on 3 December 2019. Retrieved 19 January 2020.
  24. ^ "Brexit: Buckland says power to override Withdrawal Agreement is 'insurance policy'". BBC News. 13 September 2020. Archived from the original on 13 September 2020. Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  25. ^ "The Guardian view on prisoners in lockdown: too much solitude". The Guardian. 24 May 2020. Archived from the original on 14 June 2020. Retrieved 14 June 2020.
  26. ^ "Robert Buckland gone as Justice Secretary". BBC News. 15 September 2021. Archived from the original on 15 September 2021. Retrieved 15 September 2021.
  27. ^ "The Rt Hon Sir Robert Buckland QC MP @RobertBuckland has been appointed Secretary of State for Wales @UKGovWales". 10 Downing Street on Twitter. 7 July 2022. Archived from the original on 7 July 2022. Retrieved 7 July 2022.
  28. ^ "Welsh Secretary Robert Buckland switches his support from Sunak to Truss". BBC News. 13 August 2022. Retrieved 13 August 2022.
  29. ^ https://twitter.com/10DowningStreet/status/1567262451246276608[bare URL]
  30. ^ "Grassroot Diplomat Who's Who". Grassroot Diplomat. 15 March 2015. Archived from the original on 20 May 2015. Retrieved 27 April 2015.
  31. ^ "Political Honours conferred: January 2022". Gov.uk. Archived from the original on 7 January 2022. Retrieved 18 January 2022.
  32. ^ "About Robert". Rt Hon Robert Buckland QC MP Conservative MP for South Swindon. Archived from the original on 4 June 2019. Retrieved 11 March 2018.
  33. ^ "The Rt Hon Robert Buckland QC MP". GOV.UK. Archived from the original on 3 June 2020. Retrieved 14 June 2020.
  34. ^ Angelini, Daniel (27 January 2021). "South Swindon MP Robert Buckland adopts tabby cat Mrs Landingham". Swindon Advertiser. Archived from the original on 29 January 2021. Retrieved 29 January 2021. A FINE feline has a new home thanks to South Swindon MP Robert Buckland.
Parliament of the United Kingdom Preceded byAnne Snelgrove Member of Parliamentfor Swindon South 2010–present Incumbent Legal offices Preceded byOliver Heald Solicitor General for England and Wales 2015–2019 Succeeded byLucy Frazer Political offices Preceded byRory Stewart Minister of State for Prisons 2019 Succeeded byLucy Frazer Preceded byDavid Gauke Secretary of State for Justice 2019–2021 Succeeded byDominic Raab Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain 2019–2021 Preceded bySimon Hart Secretary of State for Wales 2022–present Incumbent