HC Deb 18 May 2004 vol 421 cc900-1W
John McDonnell

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs what discussions he has had with the police about the provision of verifiable information in respect of summonses of individuals to appear at magistrates' courts in England and Wales. [173125]

Mr. Leslie

My officials have met representatives of the Association of Chief Police Officers, and other prosecuting agencies, to find ways of improving the information available to the courts in relation to summonses. I am now looking to put in place a national minimum standard.

Mr. Hoyle

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs what funding the Government makes available to(a) improve holding cells and (b) build new cells at magistrates' courts in Lancashire. [173770]

Mr. Leslie

My Department does not have direct control over the works to be carried out at each Magistrates' Court. Each Magistrates' Courts Committee bids annually for 80 per cent. of funding from the Department for works which they have assessed as being a priority, they also have to seek approval from their local authority for the remaining 20 per cent.

During the last financial year Lancashire Magistrates' Courts Committee submitted one bid to refurbish the custody area at Blackburn Magistrates' Court. This was approved at a cost of £45,000.

In the current financial year, three further bids in respect of custody area improvements were submitted from the Magistrates' Courts Committee, all three bids have been approved. At Preston Magistrates Court, security improvements will be undertaken and interview facilities provided at a cost of £21,840. At Blackburn Magistrates' Court, as part of a general upgrade costing £138,400 the cell area will be refurbished. At Accrington, Chorley and Fleetwood Magistrates' Courts, the custody areas will be refurbished at a cost of £13,440.