§ Mr. Mullin
To ask the Minister of State, Lord Chancellor's Department what action he takes on receipt of a complaint against a member of the judiciary; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Hoon
The Lord Chancellor takes complaints about members of the judiciary very seriously. In order to maintain the independence of the judiciary, judges are not accountable to the Lord Chancellor for their judicial decisions. The appropriate recourse against judicial decisions lies in the appeal or review process in the courts. However, when complaints are made about the personal conduct of a judge, the Lord Chancellor instructs officials to make inquiries on his behalf. These inquiries generally include drawing the matter to the attention of the judge concerned and giving him or her an opportunity to comment. Where necessary, the Lord Chancellor will also call for transcripts or other additional information. The judge's comments are considered by the Lord Chancellor and, if appropriate, are used by him to inform a reply to the complainant, and a copy is sent to the judge. Each complaint is dealt with individually.
The Lord Chancellor's statutory powers are limited to the dismissal of judicial office holders, below the level of the High Court Bench, on the grounds of misbehaviour and incapacity and these are accordingly exercisable only in extreme cases. But the Lord Chancellor, as Head of the Judiciary, is able to guide, counsel, advise, or rebuke with a view to ensuring that judges uphold the standard of conduct which the public expect of them.
§ Mr. Mullin
To ask the Minister of State, Lord Chancellor's Department how many complaints he has received about the behaviour of members of the judiciary in each of the last three years; how many have been upheld; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Hoon
The principle of judicial independence, which is central to our constitutional arrangements, means that it is not open to the Lord Chancellor or his Department to consider complaints about judicial decisions made by judges within their own independent sphere. The Lord Chancellor does, however, consider complaints about the personal conduct of members of the judiciary. In the period between August 1998 (when new internal arrangements for handling such complaints came into force) and March 1999, the Lord Chancellor received a total of 2,109 complaints about members of the judiciary, the majority of which related to judicial decisions. Of604W the remainder, 183 were taken forward for investigation as they related to personal conduct. To date, 26 of these cases are outstanding. Out of the 157 completed cases, there were five occasions when the Lord chancellor saw fit to take further action, either by writing to the judge or by arranging for him or her to be seen by officials. Comparable figures for the period before August 1998 are unavailable.