HL Deb 01 July 1971 vol 321 cc572-4WA

asked Her Majesty's Government:

At which places will the High Court and the Crown Court sit regularly after the coming into force of the Courts Act 1971.


I have considered the representations which I have received since the announcement of my provisional choice of court locations on January 26 (OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 314 (No. 47), at col. 947). I have decided that there are insufficient reasons for departing at this stage from tose proposals, but I shall be reviewing the position from time to time so as to ensure that adequate court facilities are provided wherever a need for them is shown.

The list in my previous Answer accordingly shows the places where the High Court and Crown Court will sit regularly from January 1, 1972, when I propose that the Courts Act should come into operation. In the longer term, it will be necessary to build new courts at Oxford and Luton, with a view to their becoming 1st and 2nd-tier centres respectively. I have already undertaken to consider raising Teesside to 1st-tier status as soon as the new courts there are in use and adequate accommodation is provided for High Court Judges. This might involve a change in the status of the higher courts at York.

Although Lancaster will be only a 3rd-tier centre, the High Court Judges may continue to visit it from time to time, especially until suitable accommodation is available for them at Preston. I do not propose to implement the recommendation of the Royal Commission on Assizes and Quarter Sessions that Bangor should be substituted for Caernarvon as a 1st-tier centre for North Wales. Welshpool will cease to be used for sittings of the Crown Court as soon as suitable accommodation for High Court Judges is available at Newtown.

I am aware that my decision may lead to some inconvenience to people living in remote areas who may, albeit infrequently, be called upon to attend at a Crown Court centre further away from their homes than assizes or quarter sessions have sat in the past. I therefore propose that, even though there may not be sufficient business in these areas to justify regular sittings of the Crown Court, a Circuit Judge should visit the locality from time to time if the amount of business arising in the area justifies it. Boston, Lampeter, Penzance and Scarborough are examples of the places I have in mind.

House adjourned at twenty-six minutes past ten o'clock.