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Judiciary: Females

Volume 480: debated on Friday 17 October 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what assessment he has made of his Department's performance against its objectives in respect of the proportion of women in the judiciary. (227034)

Some progress is being made in improving the number of women judges in England and Wales. As of 1 April 2008, 19.03 per cent. of the judiciary were femaleā€”an increase from 2001's figure of 14.1 per cent. At District Judge level and below, women account for 25.6 per cent. of the judiciary. In the senior judiciary, the recent appointment of five female High Court judges will bring the total number of female judges in the High Court and above to 20, the highest ever number, out of a total of 164 in the senior judiciary (High Court, Court of Appeal, Heads of Division and Law Lords).

There remains a long way to go before we have a judiciary that reflects society in gender terms. In recognition of this fact, all measures that could help to improve diversity in the judiciary are currently being considered. This will ensure that we maintain the highest possible standards of those appointed.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the change in the percentage of eligible women barristers entering the judiciary has been since the date of his predecessor's 2004 consultation on increasing diversity in the judiciary. (227059)

Prior to 2006-07, no formal statistics were compiled on the pool of people eligible for a given judicial appointment in England and Wales. Moreover, the eligibility criteria vary widely between different types of judicial post. For these reasons, statistics on the number of women barristers eligible for judicial appointment are not available.

The following table presents statistics for the years 2004-05, 2005-06 and 2007-08 on:

women appointed to the judiciary of England and Wales as a proportion of all appointees (fee-paid or salaried)

women barristers appointed to the judiciary of England and Wales as a proportion of all barrister appointees (fee paid or salaried).

Comparable statistics are not available for 2006-07, as this was a transitional year during which responsibility for judicial appointments was passed from the former Department for Constitutional Affairs to the Judicial Appointments Commission. Comparisons over time should be made with caution, as the set of judicial posts to which appointments are made will vary from year to year.

All appointmentsBarrister appointments

Total

Women

Women as percentage of total

Total

Women

Women as percentage of total

2004-05

294

86

29

160

43

27

2005-06

259

110

42

80

44

55

2007-08

458

156

34

178

50

28

Source: Judicial Appointments annual reports, Judicial Appointments Commission.

During the period covered by this table, the overall proportion of women serving in the Judiciary of England and Wales increased from 15.8 per cent. (at 1 April 2004) to 19.0 per cent. (at 1 April 2008). These figures include both salaried and fee-paid judicial office holders in the courts, but do not include members of the Tribunals judiciary.