§ Mr. Boateng
To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what plans he has to make it clear on the face of the application form for an industrial tribunal hearing that consent to having the case heard by a chairman sitting alone in chambers, once given, cannot be withdrawn.
§ Miss Widdecombe
Industrial tribunals are independent judicial bodies and such matters are for the presidents of the tribunals to consider. However, I understand that the tribunals' new explanatory booklet on procedures, which the guidance note on the application form asks applicants to read, will make it clear that once such written consent is given by the parties it cannot be withdrawn, although the chairman may exercise his discretion to sit with lay members.