Clause 2 - Appointment and removal

Part of Justice (Northern Ireland) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 12:45 pm ar 29 Ionawr 2002.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Sylvia Hermon Sylvia Hermon Shadow Spokesperson (Women), Shadow Spokesperson (Trade and Industry), Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 12:45, 29 Ionawr 2002

I apologise for a typing error in amendment No. 86: ''or'' should read ''and''.

The amendments relate to the classification of members of the judiciary. The purpose of amendment No. 86 is to approve High Court judges. The number

of judges in Northern Ireland is small compared with the rest of the United Kingdom. We have seven such judges. In the amended clause, High Court judges would be listed and considered with the office of the Lord Chief Justice, and the Lords Justices of Appeal, of which Northern Ireland has three. In clause 2(1)(a) and (b), the offices of the Lord Chief Justice and the Lord Justice of Appeal stand on their own. The offices of the other judicial members are listed in schedule 1. For ease of reference, schedule 1 is on page 70 of the Bill. It is proposed that High Court judges are listed with county court judges and members of the mental health tribunal, but I believe that they should be considered with the Lord Chief Justice and the Lords Justices of Appeal.

Amendments Nos. 88 and 128 are simply paving amendments that are necessitated by my proposed change to clause 2. I want the Minister to consider the reclassification of the High Court judges because of the implications for their appointment and, more importantly, for their removal. The procedure in clause 6(10) does not apply to High Court judges. Instead, High Court judges can be removed under clause 7(2)

''by the First Minister and deputy First Minister, acting jointly.''

Amendments Nos. 135 and 136 seek to delete the reference to the removal of High Court judges in those two clauses. The only way that High Court judges could be listed in clause 2 with the Lord Chief Justice and the Lords Justices of Appeal would be under clause 2(2), which states that the First Minister and Deputy First Minister, acting jointly, may by order add or omit an office to those mentioned in schedule 1. The amendment would provide that clarification, so it is an easy amendment to accept. The seven High Court judges—not a great number—should be classified with the other senior judicial appointments of the Lord Chief Justice and the Lords Justices of Appeal.