HC Deb 05 February 1976 vol 904 cc693-5W
Mr. John Moore

asked the Attorney-General if he will list the kinds of tribunals presently operating and indicate the scope and scale of their operations.

The Attorney-General

The tribunals under the supervision of the Council on Tribunals are listed in Appendix A of the Annual Report of the Council for 1973–74, a copy of which is available in the Library of the House. The Report indicates the number of cases heard by each tribunal in 1973.

Since the publication of that Report the following further tribunals have come under the Council's supervision:

  1. (i) the industrial training referees established in pursuance of Section 4(B)(5) of the Industrial Training Act 1964 to hear references of decisions of industrial training boards or committees as respects applications for certificates of exemption from levy; no cases were heard in 1974;
  2. (ii) the appeal tribunals constituted by the Child Interim Benefit (Determination of Questions) Regulations 1975, and the referees appointed under Section 16(7) of the Child Benefit Act 1975; no cases have yet been heard;
  3. (iii) the Central Arbitration Committee constituted under Section 10 of the Employment Protection Act 1975, which came into operation on 1st February 1976.

Other tribunals not under the supervision of the Council on Tribunals include:

  1. (i) Patents Appeal Tribunal and Registered Designs Appeal Tribunal: statistics are available in the Civil Judicial Statistics for 1974 (Cmnd. 6361);
  2. (ii) Foreign Compensation Commission: statistics are available in the latest report (Cmnd. 6185);
  3. (iii) Criminal Injuries Compensation Board: statistics are available in the latest report (Cmnd. 6291);
  4. (iv) Legal Aid Panel (Complaints) Tribunals; Legal Aid in Criminal Cases (Complaints) Tribunals;

Professional Disciplinary Committees: the statistics of these tribunals are not published, and to assemble them would involve unjustifiable expense.

Mr. John Moore

asked the Attorney-General if he will describe the method of selection of members of tribunals, the training they are given and their terms of service.

The Attorney-General

My noble Friend the Lord Chancellor is responsible for the appointment of most legally qualified, and some lay, chairmen and members of tribunals. In accordance with the normal practice, my noble Friend informs himself by making inquiries from members of the judiciary and others who are in a position to advise him as to the experience, ability and professional standing of candidates for appointment, and in the light of the information he receives selects those whom he considers most suitable.

The precise extent of my noble Friend's consultation must depend upon the circumstances of each case, including any statutory requirement that he should consult other Ministers or persons holding public positions before reaching a decision.

There is at present no formal training for the chairmen and members of tribunals appointed by my noble Friend, but regular conferences are arranged for the chairmen of the larger tribunals, and members sometimes attend. Arrangements are also made for newly appointed chairmen and members to attend hearings under instruction before they adjudicate themselves. The possibility of introducing formal training for the mostly non-lawyer chairmen, and the members, of supplementary benefit appeal tribunals is being considered at the present time by my noble Friend and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services, who are responsible for the chairmen's appointments, and for the administration of the tribunals and the members' appointments respectively.

As there are a very large number of tribunal appointments, it would not be practicable to specify terms of service.