HC Deb 22 March 1982 vol 20 cc685-6
38. Mr. Christopher Price

asked the Attorney-General whether the Lord Chancellor will review the retirement age for judges.

The Attorney-General

No, Sir.

Mr. Price

Does the Attorney-General agree that it is in the public interest that justice be administered by those in reasonable touch with the man on the Clapham omnibus? Does he agree that when legal nonsenses occur they can often be traced to lack of such contact, as in not only the London Transport case, but of "The Romans in Britain" case, when he refused his fiat under one law so that the case was admitted to the courts by a peculiarly elderly magistrate and he had to enter his nolle prosequi to sort the matter out? Is that not unsatisfactory?

The Attorney-General

It would be unfair to criticise the magistrate who heard the committal proceedings, because the ruling of the trial judge upheld that magistrate's decision. One was in an impossible position, following a decision by the private prosecution. Having obtained a ruling from the judge that there was a case to go to the jury, the private prosecution decided not to go to the jury. In spite of the position, I had to enter nolle prosequi. That was entered with the express agreement of the accused. In spite of press comments earlier in the week, he agreed to that course. It was the only way out of the problem.

Mr. Stanbrook

Is it not the case that those judges and magistrates who are not subject to an official compulsory retiring age are every bit as good as those who are?

The Attorney-General

I think that there are only three remaining who are not subject to that--one in Scotland and two in England. I have never heard anything but praise for their judicial ability.

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