HC Deb 13 June 2002 vol 386 cc1425-6W
Mr. Dismore

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what plans he has to review the(a) qualifications criteria, (b) age criteria and (c) method of appointment to the judiciary; and if he will make a statement. [57697]

The Rt. Hon. Baroness Blackstone Minister of State (Arts) Department for Culture Media and Sport
Ann Campbell MP Parliamentary Private Secretary to Secretary of State Department of Trade and Industry
Mr. Ian Cawsey MP Parliamentary Private Secretary to Lord Williams House of Lords
Mr. George Foulkes MP Minister of State Scotland Office
Mr. Mike Gapes MP Parliamentary Private Secretary to Secretary of State Home Office
The Rt. Hon. Harriet Harman QC Solicitor General Law Officers' Department
Mr. Denis Haughey MLA Junior Minister Northern Ireland Executive
Ms Ruth Kelly MP Economic Secretary HM Treasury
Mr. James Leslie MLA Junior Minister Northern Ireland Executive
Mr. Christopher Leslie MP Parliamentary Secretary Cabinet Office
The Lord McIntosh of Haringey Gentleman at Arms Captain of the Yeoman (Deputy Chief Whip) House of Lords

Ms. Yvette Cooper

(a) Eligibility for appointment to professional judicial office is determined by statute. There are no plans at present to review these requirements.

(b) The Lord Chancellor has recently reviewed age criteria and on 30 April this year he removed most of the age limits previously in place for judicial appointments for which he is responsible.

(c) The Lord Chancellor asked Sir Leonard Peach to review judicial appointment procedures in 1999, and following the recommendations in that report, an assessment centre approach is being piloted for the current Deputy District Judge (Civil), Deputy District Judge (Magistrates) and Deputy Queen's Bench Masters competitions. The pilots will run during October and November this year. Assessment activities, lasting one full day, will include role-plays, written exercises, a written test, and an interview. The pilot will be evaluated in early 2003.

The Lord Chancellor is committed to ensuring that there is an open effective and accessible system where everyone who is eligible for, and who wants, an appointment has a fair chance to secure it.