HC Deb 09 July 2002 vol 388 cc738-9
40. Mr. George Osborne (Tatton)

When he will announce his decision on the proposed closure of Knutsford crown court. [65338]

The Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department (Yvette Cooper)

As the hon. Gentleman is aware, the public consultation on the possible closure of the crown court at Knutsford ended on 31 May. The group manager responsible for the court is considering whether a formal case for closure should be presented to the Lord Chancellor. I understand that the group manager expects to complete his considerations over the summer.

Mr. Osborne

I thank the Minister for that answer. She will be aware of the enormous opposition to the closure from local people, local law professionals and local Members of Parliament of all parties. Through an Adjournment debate and a petition, I was making great progress with the Minister's predecessor, but then he was moved—or sacked, depending on how one interprets the newspaper reports of what happened to him—so I have to start all over again. Will she at least approach the matter with an open mind and consider the arguments, not just go along with the Department's initial proposals?

Yvette Cooper

I assure the hon. Gentleman that I will meet him and other hon. Members from the local area to hear their views. I have not yet received official advice or recommendations on the future of Knutsford crown court. I shall certainly meet the hon. Gentleman before the summer recess to discuss it.

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