New clause 20 — Lords Justices of Appeal

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 4th November 2009.

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Photo of Henry Bellingham Henry Bellingham Shadow Minister (Justice) 2:30 pm, 4th November 2009

The Minister is obviously desperate to join the Chairmen's Panel, whereupon he will be able to control debates in that way. It is up to a Committee's Chairman to say whether I am in order, however, and it is important that we look at the background to the JAC. If we do, we will be able to see whether the clauses make sense.

The issue is also about judicial appointments and what our constituents expect from the judiciary. When our constituents appear before a court, be it a magistrates court, county court, Crown court or the High Court, above all else they want to encounter a level of expertise, wisdom, fairness and professionalism. After all, at that juncture in their lives, they may be facing the loss of their liberty, property or finances, or the removal of a child from their custody, so they are not interested in the gender, race or able-bodiedness of the judge. All they are interested in is competence, expertise, wisdom and the judge's ability to deliberate upon the case and reach the right conclusion.

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