The Ministry of Justice has been running a consultation on increasing the retirement age for judges and magistrates. The consultation closed on 16 October. Over 1,000 responses were received and we will respond formally very shortly.
My hon. Friend is very aware of my private Member’s Bill to raise the retirement age of magistrates to 75, which has been bumbling along the bottom of the Friday Order Paper for a couple of months now. Bearing in mind that his own consultation on this increasingly urgent matter closed over two weeks ago, is he able to give me and many hundreds of magistrates, who have been forced to give up dispensing justice at a time when we can least afford to lose them, some hope that he will be able to legislate at the earliest opportunity, either through my Bill or through other means, so we can get that on the statute book as soon as we can?
My hon. Friend is quite right. We are losing something like 1,000 magistrates a year as they turn 70, often very experienced magistrates who still have a great deal to offer the justice system. The consultation had two options: raising the age to 72 or to 75. I strongly commend my hon. Friend for his patience, persistence and perseverance in trying to get his private Member’s Bill through, often in the face of somewhat unfortunate headwinds, on private Members’ Bill Fridays. This is an urgent issue. As soon as we have formulated a response to the consultation, we will certainly be looking to legislate via whatever vehicle is available as quickly as we possibly can.