§ 27. Mr. David Ruffley (Bury St. Edmunds)
How many Crown courts have been (a) closed and (b) merged since May 1997. 
§ Mr. Ruffley
The Minister will be aware of the concern in my constituency about the threat of closure that Bury St. Edmunds Crown court is under as a result of plans to centralise court services in Ipswich. Will she throw aside her Department's institutionalised complacency on the matter, review the case personally, note that my constituents want their justice administered locally in Bury St. Edmunds and come to the only sensible conclusion, which is to keep Bury St. Edmunds Crown court open?
§ Jane Kennedy
There are no plans currently to close the court at Bury St. Edmunds. The Court Service is not complacent about the provision of trials and hearings for those cases that cannot be compromised. The hon. Gentleman may not like to hear this, but it is the truth: it has been proven that pooling resources at courts with a number of judges and courtrooms leads to the quicker and more efficient disposal of cases, which must be in the best interests of the parties and his constituents. The new Crown court buildings will substantially increase the capacity to deal with cases in the area—[Interruption.]
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. The hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Ruffley) has asked a question and I expect him to listen to the answer.
§ Jane Kennedy
A decision on whether to follow the procedure to close the court at Bury St. Edmunds would be taken only nearer to the completion of the new buildings, which is expected in 2003.