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United Kingdom Supreme Court

Volume 461: debated on Thursday 14 June 2007

My right hon. and noble Friend the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice has today made the following written ministerial statement.

“I wish to update you on the development of the UK Supreme Court in the light of recent progress.

The Supreme Court Implementation Programme is on target to deliver the Supreme Court at Middlesex Guildhall in time for the start of the legal year in October 2009.

We achieved two major milestones in our programme in the course of the last week. Firstly we reached agreement with Westminster City Council to discharge all the necessary Planning Conditions to allow us to start renovation of the Middlesex Guildhall Secondly, we reached Financial Close with Kier Group plc, our preferred bidder, to carry out the renovation of the Middlesex Guildhall as the new UK Supreme Court. As a consequence we started work on 13 June 2007.

This signals a major step forward in the creation of the Supreme Court in a place that is separate from the Houses of Parliament. Establishing the Supreme Court at the Middlesex Guildhall will symbolise the separation of powers between the judiciary and legislature. It is an opportunity to breathe new life into a fine historic building and to keep the building, which otherwise could not have continued in the long term as a Crown Court, in use as a centre for Justice. It also means greater visibility for the highest Court in the United Kingdom and improved accessibility for all members of the public.

The renovation plans are heavily influenced by conservation. Conservation architects Feilden+Mawson developed the plans in conjunction with the Law Lords, Westminster City Council, English Heritage and many other interested groups.

Today, we have published images on our web site: that illustrate our plans in more detail. I invite you to view the pages to see the balance that has been struck between creating a home that reflects the importance of such an institution and capitalises on the building's historic features.

I said that I would update the House on costs as soon as we reached financial close with Kier Group and that is what I am now doing. On December 14 2004, Official Report, House of Lords, column 117WS, volume 428, I announced that the cost of running the Supreme Court would be approximately £8.4 million per annum at 2004-05 prices. This would be the equivalent of £10.4 million at 2010-2011 prices, the first full year of the Supreme Court's operations. We have refined these estimates based on our developing understanding of the building design and business requirements. Our estimate of the running costs is £12.3 million per annum at 2010-11 prices and is set out in the table.

Running CostsWMS2004WMS 2004inflated*WMS 2007Increase (Cost growth)





Judicial Salaries





Staff costs





Admin (inc. security)





Utilities and rates





Building Costs (inc. Cost of Capital, Depreciation, lease charge and lifecycle costs)










* Assumes inflation rate of 3.5 per cent. per annum to first full year of operation - i.e. 2010-11

The Middlesex Guildhall project will be carried out using a lease and lease-back arrangement where the capital construction costs will be met over a 30-year period. Having reached financial close we can announce the real cost in terms of an annual rental figure. The annual rent to be paid by Ministry of Justice to Kier will be £2.1 million per annum, increasing at a rate of 2.5 per cent. per annum, for a period of 30 years from completion of the works and is included in the Building Costs above. This is less than the comparative figure included in the Building Cost (£3.8 million in table above) quoted in my statement of December 2004.

In December 2004, we estimated the capital construction costs to renovate the Guildhall as approximately £30 million (£36.9 million when inflated). This previous figure was established on the basis of a traditional procurement and included VAT. On a like-for-like basis the capital construction costs of the renovation are now expected to be £36.7 million This is within the costs announced in that statement. As I pointed out in my written ministerial statement of October 2006, this figure did not include Ministry of Justice professional adviser fees and the non-capital element of the fit out costs including loose furniture, IT services and library books. These set-up costs related to the Middlesex Guildhall are expected to be an additional £14.3 million. The Ministry of Justice programme team will cost a further £5.9 million over the five years of the programme.

Significant progress has also been made since my last statement to ensure that there is minimal impact on the London criminal justice system following the closure of the seven Crown courtrooms at Middlesex Guildhall on 30 March 2007. The number of Crown Court sitting days in London has not been affected by the closure and work undertaken by the courts is now allocated to nearby court centres. In December 2006, following a successful appeal, the Department obtained planning consent for the construction of additional courtrooms at the Isleworth Crown Court Centre. The additional courtrooms will replace the loss in overall capacity by the closure of the Middlesex Guildhall. We are currently in commercial negotiations with Geoffrey Osborne (Building) over the plans and costs for the development at Isleworth. Our current plans are to commence construction in summer 2007 and open the new courts in the spring of 2009.”