Magistrates

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 3rd February 2015.

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Photo of Kate Green Kate Green Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions) 11:30 am, 3rd February 2015

What steps his Department is taking to encourage people to become magistrates and to train new magistrates.

Photo of Mike Penning Mike Penning The Minister of State, Home Department, The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

I will just “boing” again, Mr Speaker. The role of a magistrate is already a sought-after role in our communities and competition for vacancies is very strong.

Photo of Kate Green Kate Green Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions)

I declare an interest as a life member of the Magistrates’ Association, which has expressed concern to me about the new provisions of the Offender Rehabilitation Act 2014, which came into force this week in relation to the new activity requirements. The association says that it has been inundated with queries from magistrates about these new provisions. Will the Minister tell us what detailed training has been given to magistrates?

Photo of Mike Penning Mike Penning The Minister of State, Home Department, The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

There is a substantial and comprehensive training programme, which is under the overall supervision of the Judicial College. I will write to the hon. Lady giving a full and detailed answer—or, rather, the Minister responsible will.

Photo of Philip Hollobone Philip Hollobone Conservative, Kettering

Why do magistrates have to retire at 70? We are losing years of experience from willing volunteers. I think that the regulations should be scrapped, so that hundreds more people could continue to serve in our magistrates courts.

Photo of Mike Penning Mike Penning The Minister of State, Home Department, The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

I understand exactly where my hon. Friend is coming from. That sort of experience is important. However, we must also bring young people into the magistrates service, because otherwise there would be no throughput in the system.