Maximum Number of Judges Order 2003

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 8:59 pm on 5th March 2003.

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Photo of Lord Bassam of Brighton Lord Bassam of Brighton Government Whip, Government Whip 8:59 pm, 5th March 2003

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness and to the noble Lord for their support for the order and also for their questions. I shall be entirely frank with your Lordships' House. Of course we are increasing the number of judges because of the generalised increase in workload, but I would be disingenuous if I did not make it plain that there has been a large increase of work as a direct result of increases in asylum activity.

To put the matter in context, in 2002 asylum-related judicial review applications amounted to 59 per cent of all civil judicial review applications, making it the single largest category of administrative court work. That makes it plain that there has been a significant increase. Of the 5,578 civil judicial review applications received in 2002, some 3,308 were asylum-related and the administrative court received, on average, 276 such cases per month. That is one of the key pressures which has led to our belief that the flexibility that the order will give us is justified so that we can be ahead of the game in the future.

The noble Baroness, Lady Seccombe, asked about cost. My understanding is that there will be no additional cost to the Exchequer as a consequence of the order. The intention is that the flexibility afforded by the order will be met within budget.