HC Deb 23 June 1977 vol 933 cc543-4W
Mr. Sproat

asked the Attorney-General whether justices of the peace in England and Wales have been asked to reveal to him or any other authority their political views; and if he will make a statement.

The Attorney-General

Candidates for appointment as justices of the peace are invited by my noble Friend to indicate in confidence their political views. No candidate is obliged to give this information, and my noble Friend makes it clear that the information is required solely in order to avoid the appointment of a disproportionate number of justices from any one political party and that a candidate's political views are neither a qualification nor a disqualification for appointment. This practice has been followed for more than 30 years and was approved by the Royal Commission on Justices of the Peace which reported in 1948.

In a few areas those who have been appointed magistrates have been invited to bring information concerning their political views up to date, for the same purpose and on a similar basis of confidentiality.