Clause 18 - Judicial appointments

Crime and Courts Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:30 am on 31st January 2013.

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

Photo of Jenny Chapman Jenny Chapman Shadow Minister (Justice)

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Ms Dorries.

Clause 18 deals with judicial diversity, and we very much welcome its enactment of schedule 13 and the provisions that it includes on judicial appointments and judicial diversity. The clause builds on progress that began under the previous Government towards a transparent and independent appointment process for our judiciary, and towards encouraging the opening up of the profession to a more diverse range of talented applicants.

There is clearly a problem, because the comparative statistics on gender equality make the most embarrassing reading for, I suppose, all of us—I was going to say for the Ministry of Justice, but that would be a bit unfair. Women predominate in the judiciary in countries such as Slovenia, where they constitute 78% of judges, Greece, where they make up 65% of judges, or France, where they make up 64% of judges. By comparison, less than a quarter of the professional bench in the UK is female. The proportion is lower only in Armenia, where slightly less than 23% of judges are women, and in Azerbaijan, where the figure is just 9%, so we clearly have an awfully long way to go.

With that in mind, perhaps further progress could be made and should be encouraged. We have tabled amendments to that effect to schedule 13, which are matters for debate when we reach that schedule. We welcome the clause’s inclusion in the Bill.

Photo of Damian Green Damian Green The Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice, The Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice

I am grateful for Opposition Members’ support for the clause. As the hon. Lady has just said, there are a couple of amendments to the schedule, which is the substantive provision, so I suggest that we move on to a substantive debate on the schedule and the amendments to it.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 18 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.