Clause 5

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

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Judges and other members of the Upper Tribunal

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Vera Baird Vera Baird Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs

Clause 5 and schedule 3 are parallel provisions about the membership of the upper tribunal. As is the case with the first-tier tribunal, judges and other members of the upper one will either be transferred in, be appointed by the Lord Chancellor following selection by the Judicial Appointments Commission or hold their office in the new system by virtue of another office that they hold in the courts or tribunals. The latter criteria will enable judges who have the appropriate expertise to be brought into the new structure, on the invitation of the senior president, to help out. Again, as in the first-tier tribunal, some non-legally qualified members of other tribunals will automatically be members of the new tribunal.  Appointed judges of the upper tribunal will be appointed by Her Majesty the Queen, on the Lord Chancellor’s recommendation, except where a member of an existing tribunal is transferred into the upper tribunal, and appointment will follow the JAC selection process.

In order to safeguard the independence of the tribunal judiciary, appointed and transferred-in judges are protected by a prohibition on removal without the concurrence of the relevant chief justice. Judges and other members of the upper tribunal and transferred-in judges and members who are appointed on a salaried basis are protected further and can be removed only by the Lord Chancellor on the grounds of inability or misbehaviour.

Judges and members of the upper tribunal willbe partly ex officio judges and members. Their deployment, again, will be under the control of the senior president, with the concurrence of the relevant chief justice. The Lord Chancellor will have a powerto appoint deputy judges to the upper tribunal, particularly if they have special expertise that will be helpful. As is the case with the first-tier tribunal, the senior president will maintain arrangements for the training, welfare and guidance of judges and other members of the upper tribunal.

Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire Shadow Minister (Home Affairs)

Will the Minister clarify whether the powers are structured in such a way as to allow the appointment of retired High Court judges, so that they may be drafted in to meet the criteria?

Photo of Vera Baird Vera Baird Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs

We have considered whether it is necessary to table an amendment to provide for that, because it seems a good idea. If the hon. Gentleman is content to leave that with us, we will produce some definitive answer about a way forward on Report.

Judges and members will be able to sit in more than one jurisdiction if they have the skills and experience. Judges of the upper tribunal will automatically be judges of the first-tier tribunal. These tribunal reforms will create a single pool of tribunal judges and non-legal members, who are secure in their independence and free from political interference, and they will encompass a wide range of experience and expertise.

Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Shadow Attorney General, Shadow Lord Chancellor and Shadow Secretary of State for Justice, Party Chair, Liberal Democrats

I am sorry. The Minister may say several times that this is not a pub quiz, but I will continue to ask questions that she has answers to and we do not. Can she tell us, please, what is the lowest and highest remuneration—the range of remuneration—for people who are full-time tribunal members at the moment? What is the starting point? What is the total bill, which we currently pay, for tribunal members and judges across the four jurisdictions?

Photo of Vera Baird Vera Baird Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs

I should think that the answer is ever such a lot, but I shall see if I can be more specific, by letter, later in the day. It is a pity that the hon. Gentleman does not do his own research.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 5ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 3 agreed to.