HC Deb 04 February 1941 vol 368 cc824-5W
Sir R. Glyn

asked the Attorney-General (1) whether any steps are in contemplation to induce persons who have reached the age of 75 years to offer their resignations as Justices of the Peace; how many Justices are over the age of 80 and continue to perform their duties on the Bench; and whether he will consider giving discretion to the Lords Lieutenant of counties, in consultation with the Lord Chamberlain's Office, to write demanding resignation of any Justices of the Peace who, through infirmity, either mental or physical, are unable satisfactorily to carry out their duties;

(2) on what grounds, under present circumstances, he demands the resignation from the Bench of a Justice of the Peace?

The Attorney-General

The Commissions of the Peace are, of course, under the control of the Lord Chancellor and a system was introduced in 1938 under which magistrates who, for reasons of age or other infirmity, are no longer able to discharge their duties in Court with full efficiency can be placed upon a Supplemental List so that, while no longer sit-sing on the Bench, they continue to hold the position of Justice of the Peace for administrative purposes. This system has produced good results in many cases, and moreover, since November, 1940, it has been a condition of the appointment of all persons to the Commission of the Peace that they should apply to be placed upon the Supplemental List on attaining the age of 75. Further on the 22nd November, 1940, the Lord Chancellor addressed a circular letter to the Chairmen of all his Advisory Committees, both in counties and boroughs, requesting them to bring the wishes of the Lord Chancellor to the notice of Justices in all appropriate cases. Justices are removed from the Bench in cases of serious misconduct, or conviction for crime, but my Noble Friend considers that the use of the Supplemental List is more appropriate for cases of failing physical powers, such as deafness. If the present system does not result in an adequate transfer to the Supplemental List, the Lord Chancellor will not hesitate to ask Parliament for further powers. It would not be possible to say with precision how many justices over the age of 80 continue to perform their duties on the Bench without very considerable research and the examination of an immense number of files.