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Schedule 2

Part of Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:45 am on 15th March 2007.

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Photo of Henry Bellingham Henry Bellingham Shadow Minister (Justice) 9:45 am, 15th March 2007

We are looking at paragraph 1(2) of schedule 2 and the power to appoint judges of first-tier tribunals. This is a probing amendment. Would the Minister tell us the meaning of this sub-paragraph:

“A person is eligible for appointment under sub-paragraph (1) only if the person...(d) in the Lord Chancellor’s opinion, has gained experience in law which makes the person as suitable for appointment as if the person satisfied any of paragraphs (a)to (c).”

Paragraph 1(2)(a) to (c) refers to people with legal qualifications. What kind of influence will the Lord Chancellor bring to bear on his decision under that provision? What kind of legal experience would make that person suitable for an appointment? Of course, the Lord Chancellor’s views in this regard will not appear to be totally subjective. I would be grateful if the Minister filled the Committee in on what sort of considerations the Lord Chancellor will have.

Will the Minister comment on whether that provision runs counter to the philosophy in the Constitutional Reform Act 2005? Have Ministers had discussions with Baroness Prashar, who has done a superb job with the Judicial Appointments Commission? Has she had any   input into the thinking behind how those appointments are going to be made, particularly for those people who do not have a legal background but who may have a great deal to offer? We do not want to preclude them being appointed but we would like some more detailed information. Therefore, it is a probing amendment.