Suella Braverman QC MP has been reappointed attorney general after making history by becoming the UK’s first cabinet minister to take maternity whilst in office.
Earlier this year the government quickly rushed through the Ministerial and other Maternity Allowances Act 2021 to allow Braverman to take maternity leave, otherwise she would likely have had to resign.
Braverman said: ‘I am grateful to the prime minister and parliament for making it possible for me to go on maternity leave in the way other women can and come back to a job I’m honoured to do.’
Explaining why the act was needed, the Cabinet Office explained that successive governments have operated at or close to the salary and headcount limits provided for in the Ministerial and other Salaries Act 1975 and the House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975 in appointments to their administrations.
‘If a minister were to want to take maternity leave, the prime minister does not normally have the flexibility to allow them to remain a salaried member of the government in addition to appointing another minister to fulfil their role for the period of their leave. The opposition operates under similar constraints in terms of salaries for its office holders,’ the explanatory note said.
The act created a designation of ‘minister on leave’, which also applies to certain opposition post holders. This particular designation does not count towards the overall number of ministers when calculating the statutory limits. The prime minister can then appoint someone else to the role vacated by the minster going on maternity leave, without exceeding the statutory limits on the number of ministers.
Boris Johnson acknowledged that the new legislation did not resolve wider issues such as adoption and parental leave, and said the government would present a report to parliament setting out considerations and proposals.
Braverman’s return has prompted a mini-reshuffle. Michael Ellis QC MP, who took on AG duties while Braverman was on maternity leave returns to his post as solicitor-general. Lucy Frazer QC MP returns to the Ministry of Justice as minister of state.