Procedure for Appointing Judges — [Mr Virendra Sharma in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:30 pm on 8th October 2019.

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Photo of Stuart McDonald Stuart McDonald Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Immigration, Asylum and Border Control) 2:30 pm, 8th October 2019

I do not have a ready answer to that. The numbers show that it may not have gone far enough. I agree that there is more to be done to ensure that we have a bench that reflects the society that it serves, but I am not sure what the means and mechanisms for that should be.

My key point is that we should never consider or undertake the politicisation of the appointments processes, because the arguments that have been put forward in support of political interference in the appointments process are flimsy and, I would say, misguided. There is an assertion that because judges have suddenly got involved in matters that are deemed to be political, their political judgment should be open to scrutiny by parliamentarians before they are allowed to sit, but to take that view is to misunderstand the role of judges completely. Although what they decide has important political consequences, the decisions they make are not political, but legal. Therefore, a candidate’s legal abilities alone need to be assessed and compared to those of their peers.