Elizabeth Gardner stepping up to become UK's first parliamentary counsel

Gardner will be the first woman to take on the role overseeing government legislation

By Civil Service World

23 Nov 2015

Elizabeth Gardner has been appointed as the new first parliamentary counsel, stepping up to occupy the top legal post vacated after Richard Heaton's move to the Ministry of Justice. She is the first woman to take on the job.

First parliamentary counsel leads the group of government lawyers which drafts legislation, and the holder of the title is also permanent secretary of the Government In Parliament Group. The post was previously held by Heaton when he was the top official at the Cabinet Office, but the roles were split when he was made permanent secretary of the Ministry of Justice over the summer.

Gardner, who was appointed following a civil service-wide competition, is currently a director general at the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel. 

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She will take up post on Tuesday, and has described herself as "absolutely delighted" with the move.

Gardner added: "The group does vital work in connection with the delivery of the government’s programme, and I am very much looking forward to working with colleagues across the group, the rest of the Cabinet Office and the wider civil service in my new role."

Commons leader Chris Grayling described Gardner as "hugely experienced", while Cabinet secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood also heaped praise on the incoming FPC.

"I would like to congratulate Elizabeth on her appointment to the position of first parliamentary counsel, the first ever woman to hold this post," he said. 

"Her deep experience as a parliamentary drafter as well as her sound judgment and leadership skills will make her an excellent first parliamentary counsel and I look forward to working with her."

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