HC Deb 23 October 1967 vol 751 cc1339-40
38. Mr. Whitaker

asked the Attorney-General whether he will give an assurance that, in future, suitably highly quali- fled solicitors will be eligible and considered for appointment to the Bench.

The Attorney-General

My noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor already considers solicitors for appointments for which they have the necessary statutory qualifications, but I can give no undertaking that legislation will be introduced to make solicitors eligible for all judicial appointments.

Mr. Whitaker

Is my right hon. and learned Friend satisfied that legal quality, irrespective of demarcation, is the sole criterion? Could he tell us how many qualified solicitors have been appointed to the Bench recently?

The Attorney-General

When my hon. Friend refers to the Bench I do not know what kind he is referring to. One solicitor was appointed to the Metropolitan Bench earlier this year, and solicitors are qualified to become chairmen or deputy-chairmen of quarter sessions. I agree that the test is quality and ability, and at the moment the Bar has an abundance of both.

Mr. George Jeger

Would my right hon. and learned Friend assure us that no solicitor will be appointed to a Bench in the area in which his firm practises?

The Attorney-General

I am not sure about that. I would rather like notice of that question.