HC Deb 19 June 2002 vol 387 cc428-9W
Helen Jones

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department (1) how many people from Warrington, North constituency were serving as magistrates in Warrington(a) in 1997 and (b) at the latest date for which figures are available: [32254]

(2) what progress has been made in appointing more people from the Warrington, North constituency to the magistracy in Warrington. [32370]

Yvette Cooper

Pursuant to the replies of 12 February 2002,Official Report, columns 66 and 155W, I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising her concerns about the accuracy of those answers. As a result my hon. Friend the Member for North Swindon (Mr. Wills) commissioned further checks to be made and I regret to say that the figures given in original answers were not accurate. I apologise to my hon. Friend for the incorrect information she was given. There was no intention to mislead her or the House in so doing. In the preparation of the reply assumptions were made about the course of the constituency boundary which have turned out to be wrong. In the light of the further investigations, 41 per cent. of the magistrates currently serving on the Warrington bench live in the Warrington, North constituency and not 57 per cent.

As my hon. Friend has stated, the Cheshire Advisory Committee does find it harder to find people in Warrington generally who are prepared to put themselves forward for appointment. The advisory sub-committee for Warrington is working closely with the local council and the press to do all it can to encourage people to put themselves forward. I know that the advisory committee would happily discuss with her any initiatives that she feels might assist, and the secretary of the committee has been asked to contact her to arrange a discussion. I agree with her entirely that it is important that people from all sections of the community throughout an area covered by a particular court feel able and are encouraged to put themselves forward for appointment as magistrates.

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