§ The Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department (Yvette Cooper)
I understand that work on building the new courthouse in Colchester is planned to start in early 2005.
§ Bob Russell
Will the Minister confirm that the additional delay in building the new courthouse has been 716 caused by the nonsense of putting all the court services in Essex in the same private finance initiative basket, and by problems elsewhere in Essex?
§ Yvette Cooper
The magistrates courts committee has to decide about the programme of work and investment in courts in Colchester and the surrounding area. The hon. Gentleman will know that Thurrock borough council has appealed against the MCC decision to close the Grays courthouse. That decision and an appeal against it need to be considered. Ministers have to take account of all the factors raised by both the council and the MCC. However, it is important that the programme of work continues and, as I said, we expect work on the new courthouse to start in 2005.