§ Mr. Meacher
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what information he has concerning the decision of the Oldham magistrates' bench interviewing committee that no one who is an elected member of the Oldham metropolitan borough council will be considered for appointment as a magistrate.
§ Mr. Kenneth Clarke
I have advisory committees to assist me with the selection of persons for appointment as 383W magistrates. In doing so they follow certain guidelines, of which the main criterion is suitability for office. Subject to this, I desire my committees to balance the bench so that it broadly reflects the make-up of the community of the area. For example, it would be wrong to have an overlarge proportion of persons on the bench involved in the work of local government.
My committee at Oldham selects candidates for appointment on merit, follows the guidelines and does not bar elected members of the local authority from appointment.