HC Deb 25 February 1991 vol 186 cc639-40
28. Mr. Viggers

To ask the Attorney-General when he next expects to meet the president of the Law Society to discuss matters of concern to the legal profession.

The Attorney-General

No meeting is scheduled at present between myself and the president of the Law Society, with whom I enjoy a warm relationship.

Mr. Viggers

I thank my right hon. and learned Friend. He will know of the Law Society's interest in judicial appointments. It is concerned that solicitors should be more readily appointed to the Bench and that the areas from which appointments o the Bench are made should be more broadly based. I understand that meetings are planned shortly with the Lord Chancellor, but has my right hon. and learned Friend any comments to make on the position at present?

The Attorney-General

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. The Lord Chancellor will listen with great care to all suggestions made to him with a view to broadening the range from which judicial appointments are made. As for solicitors, although candidates are, naturally, considered on their merits, the Lord Chancellor is anxious to encourage more solicitors to put themselves forward for judicial appointment when they have reached the appropriate age and standing. He consults more widely than ever before on this matter and is evaluating the results of a pilot scheme designed to improve the methods by which solicitors are identified for potential judicial appointments.

Mr. Mullin

Does the Attorney-General detect any concern on the part of the Law Society about the inability of senior members of the judiciary to distinguish between innocence and guilt? Does he have any plans to take action on that? My question is motivated neither by ignorance nor by malice.

The Attorney-General

I do not answer for the Law Society. The hon. Gentleman will know that any judicial system is only as good as the quality of the evidence fed into the trials over which judges preside. The judges hold the ring and enforce the rules. Although every effort must be made—the hon. Gentleman knows that every effort is made—to rectify any miscarriage of justice that may later be found to have occurred, the people of this country acknowledge that our judiciary is of a high standard.

Mr. Bowis

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that the public's confidence in members of the Law Society would be greatly enhanced by the setting up of the legal ombudsman? Will he report on how that system is progressing?

The Attorney-General

This is the age of the ombudsman and I am sure that his arrival has been generally welcomed. However, it is too early for us to assess what progress he is making.

Mr. Fraser

When the Attorney-General meets the president of the Law Society, what will he be able to do to assuage what the Lord Chancellor called the perfectly genuine cries of hardship from legal aid practitioners? What will be the percentage increase for legal aid work that should take place after 1 April this year and what proposals does he have for easing the cash flow for legal aid practitioners who are suffering from high interest rates and the fall-off of work that used to be subsidised by the commercial and conveyancing sectors?

The Attorney-General

These are all important matters which the Legal Aid Board keeps under review.

Back to
Forward to