HC Deb 21 July 1997 vol 298 c688
37. Mr. Edwards

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if an appeal has been lodged against the proposed closure of Monmouth magistrates court. [7539]

Mr. Hoon


Mr. Edwards

I thank the Minister for that answer. When he receives such an appeal, I urge him to give it serious consideration. Many people in my constituency are signing a petition to ensure that Monmouth magistrates court is kept open. Should the magistrates court in Monmouth be closed, it would cause considerable inconvenience to defendants, witnesses and victims, who would have to travel long distances to other courts.

Mr. Hoon

I shall endeavour to give my hon. Friend a fuller response. The policy of the Lord Chancellor's Department is that decisions whether to close magistrates courts remain entirely a local issue, subject to the rights of appeal prescribed in law. Magistrates courthouses are not Crown property: they are owned or leased by the paying authority on behalf of the magistrates courts committee. Under section 56 of the Justices of the Peace Act 1997, the Lord Chancellor's responsibility in relation to magistrates courts is limited to hearing appeals in a dispute between the magistrates courts committee and its paying authority over a proposed court closure.