HC Deb 16 December 1996 vol 287 cc609-10
28. Mr. Spring

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what plans he has to visit magistrates courts in Suffolk, to discuss possible court closures and amalgamations. [7623]

The Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department (Mr. Gary Streeter)

I am due to visit Haverhill and Mildenhall magistrates courts on Monday 28 January 1997 as part of a programme of visits to help maintain my Department's good working relationship with the individual magistrates courts committees, which are responsible for running those courts.

Mr. Spring

When my hon. Friend comes to Suffolk, he can be assured of a warm welcome, but when he meets magistrates from the Haverhill and north-west Suffolk benches he will also learn of their considerable concern about the future of those courts and their potential closure. It is my firm belief that local justice should be meted out by local magistrates in local courthouses. I must tell my hon. Friend that, should the current proposals be advanced further, I shall fight them every inch of the way both in Suffolk and in the House.

Mr. Streeter

I pay tribute to my hon. Friend for the way in which he has spoken out on behalf of his constituents—he is well known in this place for doing so. There is no proposal to close the courthouses that he has mentioned. I look forward greatly to my visit to Suffolk in January. I know that I will receive a warm welcome at the hands of my hon. Friend's constituents, just as he received a warm welcome from me this afternoon.

Mr. Olner

When the Minister has completed his visit to Somerset—

Hon. Members


Madam Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman had better get his question in order: the Minister is not going to Somerset. I hope that the hon. Gentleman has noticed that the substantive question concerns Suffolk alone.

Mr. Olner

I apologise, Madam Speaker. When the Minister has visited Suffolk, will he also visit Nuneaton magistrates court in Warwickshire because, just like the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Spring)—

Madam Speaker

Order. I take to heart matters of such enormous importance, but the question is about Suffolk. I must be firm about this, and I call Mr. Llwyd.