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Magistrates

Volume 592: debated on Tuesday 3 February 2015

13. What steps his Department is taking to encourage people to become magistrates and to train new magistrates. (907374)

I will just “boing” again, Mr Speaker. The role of a magistrate is already a sought-after role in our communities and competition for vacancies is very strong.

I declare an interest as a life member of the Magistrates’ Association, which has expressed concern to me about the new provisions of the Offender Rehabilitation Act 2014, which came into force this week in relation to the new activity requirements. The association says that it has been inundated with queries from magistrates about these new provisions. Will the Minister tell us what detailed training has been given to magistrates?

There is a substantial and comprehensive training programme, which is under the overall supervision of the Judicial College. I will write to the hon. Lady giving a full and detailed answer—or, rather, the Minister responsible will.

Why do magistrates have to retire at 70? We are losing years of experience from willing volunteers. I think that the regulations should be scrapped, so that hundreds more people could continue to serve in our magistrates courts.

I understand exactly where my hon. Friend is coming from. That sort of experience is important. However, we must also bring young people into the magistrates service, otherwise there would be no throughput in the system.