QCs and Judges: Appointments

House of Lords written question – answered on 6th March 2001.

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Photo of The Earl of Shrewsbury The Earl of Shrewsbury Conservative

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether it is the practice of the Lord Chancellor to disqualify himself from involvement in any appointment concerning someone whom he knows is a donor to a political party; and

Whether the Lord Chancellor has appointed any judges or Queen's Counsel who he was aware at the time were members of the Labour Party or an affiliated organisation, or who had made donations to the Labour Party.

Photo of Lord Irvine of Lairg Lord Irvine of Lairg Lord Chancellor, Lord Chancellor's Department, Lord Chancellor

I do not, in the ordinary course, know if a candidate for judicial appointment is a member of, or has made a donation to, any political party or affiliated organisation, nor, were I to come to know, would I ever take such a fact into account in considering the question of appointment. Judicial appointments are based solely on merit. The one exception is in relation to the lay magistracy, who are only appointed if they pass a merit threshold, but where Local Advisory Committees also consider political affiliation of candidates, as a proxy for social background, so as to try to achieve lay Benches which are representative of the communities they serve: that has been the longstanding position, under successive governments.

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