§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs(Mr. Christopher Leslie)
Courts boards will be a means of ensuring local involvement in the way in which courts are run. They will work with the new unified courts agency, which will integrate the management of the courts within a single agency to replace the Magistrates Courts Committees and the Court Service. Courts boards will provide a vital local input, to ensure that the courts' administration is run in a way that meets the needs of their areas. We intend to appoint the first members to courts boards towards the end of 2004, so that the boards will run in shadow form before the new agency is launched in April 2005.
The consultation paper "Courts boards: constitution and procedures" sought views on how appointments should be made to courts boards and the procedures by which they should operate. The consultation period ran from 25 September 2003 to 5 January 2004 and 141 responses were received.
A post-consultation report for the paper courts boards: constitution and procedures will be published on 26 February. The report will set out the Government's decisions on how courts boards will be 76WS set up, in the light of the responses received to consultation. It will also inform regulations which will be laid before Parliament on that day.
I am keen for courts boards to be set up in shadow form during this year so that the boards may then consider the draft business plans for the first year of the new unified courts agency