The Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) and the Judicial Appointments and Conduct Ombudsman will not fall victim to the government’s ‘bonfire of the quangos’.

Justice secretary Kenneth Clarke (pictured) told parliament today that the two bodies will remain in place ‘as valued independent bodies, which do much to bring openness to the way candidates are selected for judicial appointments’. He did however criticise the length and cost of the appointments process, saying he will work with the JAC on more detailed proposals for improving the appointments process.

Clarke’s decision follows a review of the operation of the judicial appointments process which began at the end of June.

The JAC said in a statement: ‘While we are pleased that the important role played by the independent selecting commission in ensuring an independent judiciary has been recognised by the lord chancellor and the lord chief justice, the commission also recognises there will always be scope to improve efficiency and we look forward to working with our partners in the end-to-end process to achieve that.’

Clarke said: ‘It is clear that, at times, the appointments process can take too long and cost too much. The first duty of the commission is to maintain the high quality of judicial appointments, but I believe that the JAC should also focus on delivering efficiency in the selection of judges, working with the judiciary and the unified Courts and Tribunals Service.

‘The recruitment of the new chair of the JAC is underway and, with the lord chief justice, I look forward to working with the commission on more detailed proposals for improving the appointments process, in the first instance within the existing statutory framework. Any subsequent proposals requiring legislation would be brought forward in the usual way.’