§ Mr. Riddick
To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what conclusions he has reached about the amalgamation of magistrates' courts committees outside Greater London.
Mr. John M. Taylor
The White Paper "A New Framework for Local Justice", published in February 1992, announced our intention of reducing the number of magistrates' courts committee areas from the present 105 to 50 to 60 in due course. In the light of extensive consultation with magistrates' courts committees and others in the magistrates' courts service, the Lord Chancellor has concluded that the following magistrates' courts committees outside Greater London should be amalgamated:
- Manchester City, Tameside, Oldham and Stockport;
- Trafford, Salford, Wigan, Bury, Rochdale and Bolton;
- Knowsley, Liverpool, St. Helens, Sefton and Wirral;
- Birmingham, Coventry and Solihull;
- Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton;
- Newcastle Upon Tyne, North Tyneside and Northumberland;
- Gateshead, South Tyneside and Sunderland;
- Leeds and Wakefield;
- Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees:
- Sheffield, Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham;
- Avon and Somerset;
- Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire;
- Hereford and Worcester and Shropshire;
- Hampshire and the Isle of Wight;
- Devon and Cornwall;
- Warwickshire and Staffordshire.
In Wales, the new magistrates' courts committee areas will cover the following unitary authority areas:
- Anglesey, Caernarfonshire and Merionethshire, Aberconwy and Colwyn, Denbighshire, Flintshire and Wrexham;
- Powys, Pembrokeshire, Cardiganshire and Carmarthenshire;
- Swansea, West Glamorgan and Bridgend;
- Vale of Glamorgan, Glamorgan Valleys and Cardiff;
- Heads of the Valleys, Caerphilly, Torfaen, Newport and Monmouthshire.
These amalgamations can be brought into effect only by an order made by the Lord Chancellor. At present, such an order can be made only on the application of the local magistrates. Legislation will be introduced at the earliest opportunity to enable the Lord Chancellor to make such an order. Before making any order amalgamating magistrates' courts committee areas, the Lord Chancellor will take into account the views of those affected. No order will be made without an opportunity for those locally to make representations. The Lord Chancellor will therefore require local consultation to have taken place, and views reported to him, when considering whether an order should be made.
All other committee areas outside London should remain organised as they are at present. The Lord Chancellor will announce his decisions about the future organisation of the magistrates' courts service in London separately.