§ Mr. David Young
asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will make a statement on the method of appointment of magistrates in the Duchy; what steps are taken to ensure that all sections of society are adequately represented; how many women magistrates there are in the Duchy; and if he will take steps to increase the number.
§ Mr. Parkinson
I appoint all magistrates within Lancashire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside and am advised by committees that cover each locality and that select persons for appointment as magistrates. Candidates must in the first place be found who are personally suitable in character, integrity and understanding, and able to think and act in a judicial manner. Within this overriding requirement the final selections are made of men and women from all sections of the local community, so that as far as possible they are broadly representative of its various elements in terms of age, sex and occupational background.
There are 978 lady magistrates within these three counties. The proportion of ladies to men was, at the time of the local boundary changes in 1974, 35 per cent. and since then 39 per cent. of all appointments have been ladies. In Bolton alone the proportion of lady magistrates is approximately 43 per cent. It is intended that this improvement should continue.