HC Deb 26 January 1971 vol 810 cc98-9W
Mr. Percival

asked the Attorney-General which places will become regular High Court and Crown Court centres after the coming into operation of the Courts Bill.

The Attorney-General

The Royal Commission on Assizes and Quarter Sessions recommended that the High Court and the new Crown Court should sit at substantially fewer places than those at which Assizes and Quarter Sessions have sat in the past. In reaching provisional conclusions about court centres, my noble friend the Lord Chancellor has sought to follow the Commission's proposals so far as possible, although there are a few cases in which this has proved to be impracticable or undesirable. At several of the smaller centres the courts will only sit occasionally and these places will be staffed from the nearest convenient major centre. It will be necessary to consider in the light of experience how far the continued use of these smaller centres can be justified.

A High Court or Circuit judge may sometimes visit a place not shown in the list below to meet the convenience of witnesses and others who live in a remote area, but such visits must be kept to the minimum if the defects of the present Assize system are not to reappear.

Places described in the following list as first-tier centres will deal with both civil and criminal cases and will be served by High Court and Circuit judges: second-tier centres will deal with criminal cases only but will be served by both High Court and Circuit judges; while third-tier centres will deal with criminal cases only and will be served only by Circuit judges.

MIDLAND AND OXFORD CIRCUIT First-tier Birmingham, Lincoln, Nottingham, Stafford, Warwick. Second-tier Leicester, Northampton, Oxford, Shrewsbury, Worcester. Third-tier Coventry, Derby, Dudley, Grimsby, Hereford, Huntingdon, Stoke-on-Trent, Walsall, Warley, West Bromwich, Wolverhampton. Peterborough will replace Huntingdon as a third-tier centre as soon as suitable court accommodation can be provided there.

NORTH EASTERN CIRCUIT First-tier Leeds, Newcastle upon Tyne, Sheffield, York. Second-tier Durham, Teesside. Third-tier Beverley, Bradford, Doncaster. Huddersfield, Kingston upon Hull, Wakefield. Beverley will cease to be a third-tier centre as soon as additional court accommodation can be made available at Kingston-upon-Hull.

NORTHERN CIRCUIT First-tier Carlisle, Liverpool, Manchester, Preston. Third-tier Barrow-in-Furness, Birkenhead, Burnley, Kendal, Lancaster.

SOUTH EASTERN CIRCUIT First-tier London, Norwich. Second-tier Chelmsford, Ipswich, Lewes, Maidstone, Reading St. Albans. Third-tier Aylesbury, Bedford, Brighton, Bury St. Edmunds, Cambridge, Canterbury, Chichester, Guildford, King's Lynn, Southend.

WALES AND CHESTER CIRCUIT First-tier Caernarvon, Cardiff, Chester, Mold, Swansea. Second-tier Carmarthen, Newport, Welsh-pool. Third-tier Dolgellau, Haverfordwest, Knutsford, Methyr Tydfil.

WESTERN CIRCUIT First-tier Bodmin, Bristol, Exeter, Winchester. Second-tier Dorchester, Gloucester, Plymouth. Third-tier Barnstaple, Bournemouth, Poole, Devizes. Newport (I.O.W.), Portsmouth, Salisbury, Southampton, Swindon, Taunton.

My noble Friend will, as the Commission recommended, be reviewing from time to time what changes should be made in these initial proposals so as to ensure that the places where the higher courts sit regularly match the needs of the public. He will also be asking local authorities and others wishing to make representations in connection with his proposals to do so not later than 28th February.

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