With the end of 2015 in sight, we asked Whitehall's top officials to review the year, set out their priorities for 2016 – and shed some light on their festive plans. Jonathan Jones, HM Procurator General, Treasury Solicitor and Head of the Government Legal Service, takes part in our biggest-ever perm secs round-up series...
How did you tackle the biggest challenges facing your organisation in 2015?
We continued to evolve as a department in 2015, which saw the latest in our series of mergers with government legal teams (with Ministry of Defence in May). We also changed our name to the Government Legal Department and I am pleased how quickly this new identity became established. The creation of GLD and our changes in structure have, I believe, helped us provide a better, more joined-up and efficient legal service to support delivery of the government’s agenda.
What are your department’s top priorities in the year ahead?
GLD’s priorities reflect the government’s as a whole – since so much of the government’s agenda raises major legal and constitutional issues, including Europe, the constitution, human rights, immigration, welfare reform and national security. We aim to provide the best possible professional legal support on all these topics and many more. We’re planning to develop a new digital model for sharing legal knowledge and expertise around the government legal community, and provide some services and materials to clients online. We are also looking at the government’s use of private sector legal firms to see if we could do more of that work in-house and get better at managing the external providers.
What film do you hope to watch over the festive period – and what’s the best game to play with the family on Christmas Day?
I enjoy films involving subterfuge and duplicity, like the Bourne films. And I’m a fan of a dice game called Perudo (which also involves subterfuge and duplicity). You decide if these are appropriate qualities for a lawyer.
Perm secs round-up 2015: Whitehall's top civil servants review the year – and look ahead to 2016