The former Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice Lord Falconer made a statement on 25 June 2007 about a £400 million investment in new courts in England and Wales. My hon. Friend might be interested to learn that Her Majesty’s Courts Service asset management committee considered a strategic outline case for a new courthouse in Newport on 23 April 2008. Further work is now required before a final funding decision can be reached.
Newport has needed a new courthouse for 25 years, and an inspection in 2002 deemed the current facilities unfit for purpose. Please could the Minister talk to the Treasury about speeding up the financial approval for this project, as it is the No. 1 priority in terms of new court buildings in Wales?
I am very happy to discuss with my hon. Friend the details of the stage that we have reached in examining potential investment in that courthouse. I accept that Her Majesty’s Courts Service, regionally and nationally, has decided that the magistrates court in Newport is the most pressing priority in that area. I am happy to discuss the matter further with her, should she wish to do so.
I congratulate the Government on changing their mind on the Llandrindod Wells magistrates court, which appears to be continuing. I believe there are plans for a new court, as an area that is almost the size of Greater London is being served—although rather fewer people live there. The criminal justice system is still not well served because the custody cells have been deemed unfit for purpose, so prisoners have to be taken 30 miles to Brecon or Newtown. While the new magistrates court is being built, can we also be given a new police station, because the area would then be well served by the criminal justice system? Will the Minister visit the area so that she can understand the situation?
I am happy to take up the hon. Gentleman’s offer to visit his part of the world and to look at service provision across the criminal justice system. I congratulate him on his attempt to join up government from the Opposition Benches—that is not an easy thing to do even from the Government Benches. I would be happy to talk to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary to see what plans there are to deal with the issues that he raises.