“Third priority:” Liz Truss sets out Bill of Rights ambitions

New Lord Chancellor Liz Truss has set out her priorities for the justice department, with the introduction of a British Bill of Rights one of three priorities.

Speaking at a meeting of the Justice Select Committee, she said that “making sure our prisons are places of safety and reform” is “the most pressing issue I face as justice secretary.”

“We cannot press on with our reform plan without making sure prisons are safe,” she said, citing statistics showing a 40 per cent increase in violence against prison officers in the past year.

However, she did not commit to predecessor Michael Gove’s planned prison reform legislation.

Truss said her second priority was “making sure the justice system works for everyone,” with court reform playing a key part in that aim.

“We we have ambitions to go far further” on court reform, Truss said, adding: “I think there are huge opportunities to engage people much more in the justice process, to make the justice system simpler and more understandable for those who use it, to make it more swift, and to make sure justice is done.”

She then mentioned the Bill of Rights, saying: “That is a manifesto commitment that we are proceeding with, and that is the third priority I will be looking at.”

Quizzed on what the point of repealing the Human Rights Act would be, given that the Prime Minister has indicated Britain will not be withdrawing from the European Convention on Human Rights, Truss said: “What the British Bill of Rights will do is protect our rights but in a better way.”

“There are problems with the Human Rights Act that are nothing to do with Europe.”

However, she refused to be drawn when quizzed on detail of what the new Bill might contain, saying: “The department is still working on the proposal.”

Legal commenters on Twitter were unimpressed.

Truss is the first woman to hold the office of Lord Chancellor after new Prime Minister Theresa May sacked Michael Gove in July.