More women and people from minority backgrounds will be encouraged to become judges under plans announced today by Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke.
Mr Clarke revealed that new laws would be put in place to remove obstacles which can limit diversity in the judiciary. They include changing the rules to extend part-time working patterns for senior judges, intended to help balance work and family lives, and enabling ?positive action? for appointments ? meaning that if two candidates are completely equal in their abilities, a selection can be made on the basis of improving diversity.
The moves will not change the over-riding principle of appointments based on merit but are intended to enable clear career progression, encourage applications from a wider talent pool and continue to create a judiciary which reflects society.
The changes are the latest part of ongoing work to bring more diversity among judges, which is being carried out in partnership with the judiciary, the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) and the legal professions.
Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke said:
'We are lucky in this country that we have the finest judiciary in the world. We intend to build on that ? we will continue to recruit the very best judges but at the same time we will do what we can encourage top applicants from a diverse range of backgrounds, so that the judiciary better reflects society.'
The proposed changes have been included in the new Crime and Courts Bill.