Clause 109 - Retirement date for holders of judicial offices etc

Public Service Pensions and Judicial Offices Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee am 2:00 pm ar 27 Ionawr 2022.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

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

Photo of Graham Brady Graham Brady Chair, Conservative Party 1922 Committee

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Government amendment 48.

That schedule 1 be the First schedule to the Bill.

Photo of Simon Clarke Simon Clarke The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

Amendment 48 very simply corrects a cross-referencing error in schedule 1. It references the power described in paragraph 44(2) in schedule 1, which confers upon the Lord Chancellor the power to reinstate retired magistrates, rather than referencing sub-paragraph (3), as currently drafted.

Clause 109, together with schedule 1, will increase the judicial mandatory retirement age to 75. Schedule 1 also gives the Lord Chancellor powers, with the concurrence of the Lord Chief Justice, to reinstate retired magistrates below the new mandatory retirement age where there is business need.

Photo of Tulip Siddiq Tulip Siddiq Shadow Minister (Treasury)

We support the clause, which raises the retirement age of judges to 75, as we recognise the need to deal with the backlog in the judicial system. However, I wanted to make the point to the Minister that measures to deal with the backlog should not distract from efforts to improve the diversity of the judiciary. Shockingly, according to Government data—this will not come as a surprise to the Minister—only 1% of judges were black, and only 4% of senior court appointments came from ethnic minority backgrounds. I want some reassurance from the Minister that the Government will take steps to ensure that this provision does not hinder efforts, in any way, to bringing a more diverse workforce to the bench.

Photo of Simon Clarke Simon Clarke The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

I thank the hon. Lady for her point, which was well made. Obviously, judicial diversity is very important. That is something that we place a firm emphasis on as we look to the future of the judiciary. As she rightly says, we must ensure that we can deal with the backlog in our courts, which has accrued due to the pandemic, and also deal with the genuine challenges of ensuring that we have enough people in the medium term.

The measures that we are taking will retain around 2,000 extra magistrates and 400 extra judges annually, when compared with retaining a mandatory retirement age of 70. We therefore believe that that is the right thing to do. We absolutely remain committed—as does the Ministry of Justice, more importantly—to the wider principle that we must do everything within our power to ensure that the bench better reflects modern society.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 109 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.