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Morley Magistrates Court

Volume 300: debated on Monday 10 November 1997

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32.

What representations he has received in respect of proposals to close the magistrates court in Morley. [13459]

No representations have been received by the Lord Chancellor's Department in respect of proposals to close Morley magistrates court. Magistrates courts are provided by the local paying authority for the use of magistrates courts committees. Decisions concerning the future of any magistrates court are for the relevant MCC to determine, in consultation with the local paying authority.

I thank the Minister for his reply. Nevertheless, I am sure that he will understand the concern of those Morley magistrates who have met me when he has read the report of Her Majesty's inspectors recommending that Leeds MCC consider the use of the outer courthouses and the response to it. Will he ensure that, in considering such issues, committees take account of the latest position, the investment that has gone into courts and the social consequences of any suggestion that such courts should be closed? Closure would have serious consequences, both for those who serve in the courts in Morley and for those who have to answer charges there.

I am sure that the magistrates courts committee will take that into account. I understand that, in the light of the Court Service inspectorate report of March 1997, the Leeds magistrates court committee decided at its meeting of 17 October 1997 to conduct a review of its outer courthouse premises at Morley, Pudsey and Wetherby. I assure my hon. Friend that no decisions have been taken at this stage of the review and no plans have been formulated on the outer courthouses.

I understand that the committee has recently written to the local paying authority, Leeds city council, and the local benches about additional accommodation and facilities which might be made available to the MMC at Morley and Pudsey.