Liz Truss slammed for 'shambolic' Justice Commitee performance
Liz Truss has been condemned for her “absolutely shambolic” performance while being grilled by MPs for the first time since becoming Justice Secretary.
Ms Truss appeared unaware of key issues affecting her department as she was quizzed by members of the powerful Justice Select Committee.
During the hearing the Secretary of State frequently left long silences after questions, before responding with vague answers on issues such as restorative justice, the introduction of a British Bill of Rights and court reform.
Shadow Justice Minister Jo Stevens hit out at Ms Truss’ refusal to provide “a single detail” on prison reform and her overall performance at the committee.
“Tory prison policy is in tatters following the Justice Secretary’s absolutely shambolic appearance at the Justice Committee this morning,” she said.
“Having overseen a prison crisis with record levels of violence, deaths, drug finds and overcrowding, she repeatedly failed to provide a single detail of what she will do about it.”
Labour MP and Justice Committee member David Hanson told PoliticsHome: “It’s clear from the Select Committee that she has a lot of homework to read up on.
"There are a lot of major challenges she is going to have to think through; it’s clear that at the moment there are still a lot of blanks on the paper to fill in.”
Meanwhile, Lib Dem justice spokesperson Lord Marks said: "Today's lacklustre performance before the Justice Select Committee by Liz Truss has shown that the Brexit team aren’t the only ones without a plan."
PRISON REFORM CONFUSION
Ms Truss caused alarm among the MPs this morning when she appeared to suggest she would not go ahead with the Prison Reform Bill - a key element of the Government’s most recent Queen’s Speech.
Former justice secretary Michael Gove had spearheaded the plans to see prisons handed more control over their rules and budgets.
But his successor said she was “not committing” to specific legislation and that her own plans - to be announced in the autumn - had to be “deliverable”.
“I am working on a delivery plan at the moment, which we do not currently have,” she added.
Tory committee chair Bob Neill said it was “surprising” she was unable to confirm the legislation, but Ms Truss insisted the reforms would “absolutely” happen.
This afternoon the Prime Minister’s spokesperson was forced to step in and confirm the Prison Reform Bill would be introduced during the parliament.
A statement from the Ministry of Justice added: “The Government remains totally committed to legislating on prison reform and will come forward with plans in due course.
“We also remain committed to legislating on reform of our court system to provide a better and more efficient service.”