HC Deb 20 December 1999 vol 341 c314W
Mr. Dismore

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what other methods of consulting solicitors as part of the "secret soundings process" for applicants to the judiciary and for silk he proposes to adopt following the withdrawal by the Law Society and other solicitors' bodies from that process. [103581]

Mr. Lock

The arrangements for consultation on candidates for judicial and Queen's Counsel appointments do not in any way constitute a "secret soundings process". The identities of consultees are published. The arrangements are a system for obtaining assessments of candidates against the stated criteria for appointment, and were substantially endorsed by Sir Leonard Peach in his recent Report. The Lord Chancellor is disappointed that the Law Society decided to withdraw from the consultation process and did so before the publication of the Peach Report. In fairness to solicitor candidates the Lord Chancellor will continue to consult such representative bodies as the Solicitors' Family Law Association, the Solicitors Association of High Court Advocates and the London Criminal Courts Solicitors' Association. The Lord Chancellor also proposes to develop other channels of consultation, potentially including solicitors' firms, senior practitioners and local and regional Law Societies.