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Volume 22: debated on Monday 26 April 1982

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asked the Attorney-General if he will consider the introduction of new legislation on the appointment and dismissal of judges.

Why have the Government not introduced a Bill to enforce the long-overdue retirement of some of the geriatric fossils who use their judicial position to overrule the wishes of the elected representatives of the people on matters such as public transport fares and subsidies?

The three judges who are over the existing retirement age—two English and one Scottish—could not be described by any of the adjectives so poisonously used by the hon. Gentleman. They are respected judges who carry out their job impartially and fairly, as we expect them to do.

If my right hon. and learned Friend ever has occasion to consider the processes for dismissing judges, will he ensure, in so far as Parliament is involved, that those processes involve the accused judge being heard either in person or at least by a Committee of the House, as happened in the Jonah Barrington case, but did not happen in the Peter Thomson case?

Since, fortunately, I see no prospect on the horizon of that happening, I will bear in mind what my hon. Friend said, but I shall not promise to do any more than that.

What is the objection to introducing a fixed period of training for potential appointments to the judiciary and a periodic refresher course, particularly in sentencing attitudes, during their tenure of office on the Bench? Many other careers have an in-service type of updating. Why not judges?

I should be more ready to accept that question from someone who is not a lawyer and has not had great experience in the courts. Most judges have practised widely in the courts. Furthermore. courses and seminars are regularly arranged on various matters which will come before them, particularly the problems involved in sentencing.