Fixer makes way for family man

THE PRIME MINISTER announced the appointment of a new parliamentary secretary to the Lord Chancellor's Department on the eve of the controversial Family Law Bill's second reading.

Jonathan Evans, MP for Brecon and Radnor, is stepping into his role at a stormy time for the department.

Listing “family law” as one of his political interests, the MP is a former partner of Cardiff-based Leo Abse & Cohen, whose Tory MP senior partner was behind a private members' bill on divorce reform in 1969.

Evans, who entered the Commons on a perilously small majority of 130, has swapped roles with John Taylor, now Parliamentary Undersecretary of State at the DTI.

Taylor, described by one Law Society insider as a “real backroom fixer” who is “not regarded as a great intellectual”, has been a staunch battler for Lord Mackay's policies in the Commons since his appointment in 1992.

Evans is believed to have a more subtle approach and his background in family law is considered more suitable to the department's current cause.

Born in 1950, he trained as a solicitor. He left Leo Abse & Cohen in 1992 when he entered Parliament. Before his election he was deputy chair of the Board of Housing for Wales and an honorary consultant on law and policy matters for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

From 1992-93 he was Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Minister of State Northern Ireland Office.