HC Deb 21 December 1966 vol 738 cc1416-8
37 and 38. Mr. Hooson

asked the Attorney-General (1) whether a recommendation of the Advisory Committee of a Lord Lieutenant must be unanimous before a person is recommended to the Lord Chancellor for appointment as a justice of the peace.

(2) what is the precise function of the Lord Lieutenant's Advisory Committee; and how it is appointed.

The Attorney-General (Sir Elwyn Jones)

The advisory committees are not Lord Lieutenants' Committees, but are appointed by my noble Friend the Lord Chancellor to assist him, in confidence in the appointment and removal of justices of the peace in their areas, and in the selection of new justices when vacancies occur. My noble Friend has a complete discretion but would not ordinarily accept a recommendation from an advisory committee for the appointment of a justice if any member of the committee opposed the recommendation.

Mr. Hooson

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that there is no constituency implication in my Question? Would he not agree that, under the present system, there is a danger of a man who might be otherwise quite suitable not being recommended, simply because of hostility on the part of one member of the committee? What proportion of the committee is made up of nonpolitical appointees, remembering that it would be wrong for the public to think that only party adherents can be appointed to the bench?

The Attorney-General

I hope that no member of the advisory committee would be allowed to be influenced by emotions of personal hostility. If there is any indications of such a case, I am sure that my noble Friend would be glad to be informed about it. The essence in these appointments is that the candidate should have the appropriate merit and qualification for the job. We have had a good deal of discussion lately about the importance of the bench reflecting the broad spectrum of the community as a whole and that there should be no undue preponderance of one political party. In fact, many J.P.s have no political affiliations at all.

Mr. Renton

Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree that the advisory committees have a difficult and delicate task to discharge and that they have, for the most part, discharged this task very well, with satisfactory results?

The Attorney-General

Yes, that is so.

  1. ROYAL ASSENT 148 words
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