HC Deb 28 October 1971 vol 823 cc2065-6
16. Mr. Golding

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will arrange for a courthouse to be built at Newcastle-under-Lyme from Exchequer funds.

Mr. Carlisle

The provision of a new courthouse is the responsibility of the Borough Council. My right hon. Friend has no power to vary the financial arrangements set out in the Justices of the Peace Act, 1949. Under these, the Council would receive repayment of about 80 per cent. of the cost.

Mr. Golding

Is the hon. and learned Gentleman aware that the local council think it unreasonable that it should incur the cost of building a new courthouse at Newcastle? Is he further aware that while the Government argue with local government, witnesses have to stand outside in the rain during some sittings and magistrates are asked to make judgments under the most deplorable conditions?

Mr. Carlisle

The hon. Gentleman is, with respect, under a misapprehension. The court required in Newcastle is a magistrates' court and the same rules apply there as for magistrates' court throughout the country. Under the Justices of the Peace Act, 80 per cent. of the cost is always found by central government and 20 per cent. by the local authority. Newcastle is being dealt with in no way different from any other place. We are fully aware of the need for a new court in Newcastle as soon as possible.