Tuesday, August 21, 2007

David Mcletchie calls for pensioners over 65 to serve jury duty

David 'Taxi' Mcletchie, whose Conservative Party in London is currently battling a Scottish resident for £8 million pound the contents of his own late father's will for the coffers of the Tory part instead , has been looking around for things to meddle with, coming up with an idea for pensioners to be allowed to sit on juries over the current age limit of 65 years old.

With the Tories having the Convenership of the Scottish Parliament's only Justice Committee for this parliamentary session (a mistake if ever there was one) we here at SLR wonder what other arm twisting headline grabbing ventures the conservatives will embark upon in exchange for supporting votes on other legislation .. or back door deals on going slow on others as sources in the Executive indicate may well be about to happen ...

The Herald reports :

Age review could allow pensioners to sit on juries


Pensioners could be allowed to sit on juries after the Scottish Executive yesterday revealed it was considering lifting the current age limit of 65.

Sources said Kenny Mac-Askill, Cabinet Secretary for Justice, was "sympathetic" to calls for the rules, which have been in place for more than 25 years, to be changed.

The age limit could eventually be increased to 70 as part of a review under way into arrangements for jurors.

David McLetchie, the Conservative MSP for Edinburgh Pentlands, first raised the matter almost two years ago after being contacted by a constituent who was barred from jury service because she was 67.

Yesterday, Mr McLetchie described the rules as "anomalous" and said lifting the age limit to 70 would lead to an additional 200,000 people becoming eligible for jury duty. The former Scottish Tory leader, who is also a lawyer, said: "The basic fact of the matter is that judges can serve on the bench until they're 70, or in some cases 73, yet you're disqualified from being a juror at 65.

"It seems anomalous and should be looked at again because at the moment we're disqualifying people who have years of experience and common sense who would be more than happy to sit on a jury."

He added: "Many of the people who are called to serve on juries at the moment have to get time off work and that can be hugely disruptive.

"If you're over 65, the chances are you don't have to get time off work so I think that makes you a perfect candidate to sit on a jury."

The age limit of 65 was set in 1980. Before then, jurors had to be under 60 years old.

Mr McLetchie said: "The pension age is going up to 67 and there are lots of older people who are continuing to work after the official retirement age Most of the people I know who are over 65 are well capable of sitting on a jury and would be very happy to do so.

"The current situation is an anomaly which needs to be corrected."

The MSP's demands were last night welcomed by campaigners for the elderly. A spokesman for Age Concern Scotland said: "The idea that you lose your mental faculties when you reach a certain age is ludicrous and ageist.

"We very much welcome David McLetchie's call for the restriction which prevents over-65s from sitting on juries to be scrapped."

A spokesman for Help the Aged in Scotland also backed David McLetchie's comments.

"Finding enough jurors has been posing a problem in Scotland for quite some time, yet there are lots of perfectly competent over-65s who are being excluded simply because of their age," he said.

"It's not as if you're mentally competent until you are 64 years and 364 days old and overnight you suddenly become incompetent.

"As we have an ageing population, it is high time that this proposal was discussed and implemented. If it is, it would then serve as a wake up call and show people that over-65s still have a lot to offer."

A spokesman for the executive said: "The age limit for jurors is something that we're looking at as part of a review of arrangements for jurors."

However, any proposals to change the age limit would first of all be put out to public consultation before being included in primary legislation, meaning the current rules will remain in place for some time yet.

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