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Judicial Diversity Taskforce (Annual Report)

Volume 527: debated on Monday 9 May 2011

My right hon. Friend the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice, Lord McNally, has made the following written ministerial statement:

The report of the advisory panel on judicial diversity, chaired by Baroness Neuberger, was published in February 2010. It contained 53 recommendations, one of which was that a judicial diversity taskforce, comprising the Ministry of Justice, senior members of the judiciary, the Judicial Appointments Commission, the Bar Council, the Law Society and Institute of Legal Executives, be constituted to oversee implementation of the recommendations.

Once established, the taskforce met for the first time in March 2010, and accepted the recommendations of the advisory panel and committed to their implementation, subject to consideration of the financial and resourcing implications.

One year on from the inaugural meeting, the taskforce met to discuss progress. I have deposited in the Libraries of both Houses copies of the first annual report. “Improving Judicial Diversity Report May 2011”, from the judicial diversity taskforce, which details progress achieved to date.

The report indicates that progress has and is being made in respect of all of the recommendations. However, we must not be complacent; there is a need for a much greater sense of urgency and commitment if we are to achieve meaningful improvements in the diversity of the judiciary and legal professions.

The statistics contained within the report, show that there is a significant way to go, which can only be achieved through concerted action by all involved, the Executive, the judiciary, the JAC and the legal professions to ensure that a person’s gender, race, religion, disability or sexuality is not a barrier to becoming a judge.

The judiciary can only become more diverse if those who are eligible to apply are equally diverse. It is therefore just as important to ensure that the legal professions themselves maintain the pool of diverse talented individuals, that they address the issue of retention within the professions and also undertake proactive initiatives to publicise the positive benefits that can be achieved through a judicial career.

The role of the taskforce will therefore be to provide a firm hand upon the tiller. Our common aim must be to remove the barriers, whether real or perceived, so that we attain our goal of improving the diversity of the judiciary by 2020.