Alumni lecture: 'The Interface of Law and Politics'
Sir Stephen Laws
'The Interface of Law and Politics' - Sir Stephen Laws
Sir Stephen Laws graduated in Law from the University of Bristol in 1972, where he then taught law before qualifying to practice as a barrister.
He joined the Civil Service as a legal assistant in the Home Office and later transferred to the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel ("OPC"). For 30 years his main work was as a drafter of legislation. He worked on a number of the 1980s privatisation Bills and then on Finance Bills. Subsequently, he also worked, amongst other things, on legislation about communications and broadcasting matters, the police, counter-terrorism and crime.
In 2006, he became the First Parliamentary Counsel, the Permanent Secretary responsible for leading the OPC, who also has a special role advising on constitutional matters. As such he was, with the Treasury Solicitor and the Director of Public Prosecutions, one of the three legal permanent secretaries, the most senior lawyers in the Civil Service.
He was the first non-Oxbridge graduate to hold the office of First Parliamentary Counsel since it was established in 1869. He was also responsible for the civil servants supporting the Leaders and government Whips in both Houses.
He retired from the Civil Service in January 2012 and was appointed to the McKay Commission, looking at the consequences for the House of Commons of devolution, aspects of which are sometimes known as the West Lothian Question.
He is a senior associate research fellow with the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies and an honorary senior research associate in the department of Political Science at University College London.
In 2015 he served on the advisory panel that assisted Lord Strathclyde with his review of secondary legislation and the primacy of the House of Commons. He currently writes and lectures on constitutional issues.