HC Deb 23 April 2001 vol 367 cc155-6W
Tony Wright

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what age limit is placed on appointments to public bodies in his Department; if this limit is mentioned in advertisements for such posts; and what the basis for this limit is. [158130]

Jane Kennedy

For appointments as members of the Law Commission in England and Wales, no mention is made of any age limit in the advertisement, but in the information pack sent to applicants it states that the Lord Chancellor will consider applications from candidates up to the age of 65. Law Commissioners work full-time and this is the normal age of retirement.

For the Lord Chancellor's non-departmental public bodies administered by the Northern Ireland Court Service, there is no age limit for appointment to the Legal Aid Advisory Committee. For the other advisory committees, save in exceptional circumstances, a member will not be appointed over the age of 65 and the retirement ages are as follows: Chairman and members of Advisory Committees on General Commissioners of Income Tax (GCIT) in Northern Ireland: 75 if a Lord Lieutenant, if not a Lord Lieutenant 75 if appointed prior to 1996, 70 if appointed after then. Chairman of an Advisory Committee on JPs in Northern Ireland: 75. For the other appointments in Northern Ireland the retirement age is 70. For the equivalent advisory committees on JPs and on GCITs in England and Wales, appointments cannot normally extend beyond a person's 70th birthday.

Otherwise, no age limit is placed on the non-judicial appointments the Lord Chancellor makes to his non-departmental public bodies. However, where the appointment is to be held by someone who is a serving member of the judiciary, including JPs, the retirement ages for judges will be borne in mind.

Tony Wright

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department for what reason his Department advertises part-time appointments with an age limit for applicants of 62. [158061]

Mr. Lock

A normal upper age limit of 62 for applicants to part-time judicial posts is principally set to take account of the retirement age for judicial offices, which for part-time judicial office holders is 65. In setting the upper age limit at 62 the Lord Chancellor has taken into account the expectation that office holders should be able to complete a reasonable period of service before reaching the compulsory retirement age.

However, in exceptional circumstances the age limits set for appointment may be relaxed at the Lord Chancellor's discretion. The Lord Chancellor's discretion may be invoked, for example, where an otherwise well-qualified candidate has had a career break or started his or her career later than usual. Other factors that the Lord Chancellor would take into account, in considering whether or not to exercise his discretion, would include evidence of a previous judicial appointment, or that the applicant was particularly well qualified for the post applied for.

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