HC Deb 24 February 1970 vol 796 cc967-8
15. Dr. Winstanley

asked the Minister of Transport what steps he has taken to reduce the average age of the members of the panel of inspectors appointed by him to hold public inquiries into traffic regulation orders.

Mr. Mulley

I have recently released from the Panel of Inspectors nine members of whom four are over 70. A further member has resigned, and one has died. Both were over 70. Four of these 11 inspectors had been appointed to hold inquiries into traffic regulation orders. Three of the nine new inspectors added to the Panel since June, 1969, will hold such inquiries: their average age is 63.

Dr. Winstanley

While welcoming that answer and not wishing to suggest that age should itself be regarded as an automatic disqualification for certain offices, may I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman is aware that we are glad to hear that he accepts that the position of which we were told eight months ago, that the average age of these persons was 70, the lowest 65 and the oldest 85, is not one which should be allowed to recur in connection with these important bodies?

Mr. Mulley

I am reviewing the arrangements generally, but I agree with what the hon. Member has said. Age should not be the only criterion. In lots of respects, some quite elderly gentlement are very efficient in discharging their duties.

Mr. Snow

As the hon. Member for Lichfield and Tamworth has today reached 60 years of age, may I heartily commend what my right hon. Friend has said?

Mr. Mulley

I wish my hon. Friend a happy birthday.