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Court Closures

Volume 517: debated on Wednesday 3 November 2010

1. Whether she has had discussions with the Secretary of State for Justice on the likely effects on Wales of her Department’s proposed programme of court closures. (20323)

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I are fully engaged with our colleagues at the Ministry of Justice on these proposals. We both met the Under-Secretary of State for Justice, my hon. Friend the Member for Huntingdon (Mr Djanogly), in September and further meetings have been arranged.

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that reply. Will he tell me when exactly he met his colleagues and what he discussed? Which courts did he say should not close?

I and the Secretary of State met the Under-Secretary in September. We have another meeting arranged for 10 November. We discussed all the courts in Wales that I am sure the hon. Gentleman is concerned about.

May I make the point that since the hon. Gentleman and his colleague have been in post, we have lost the investment in St Athan, we have lost the investment in the south Wales railway line, we have lost jobs in Newport and we have lost the north Wales prison? What on earth are they doing for Wales?

It is in fact inaccurate to say that we have lost either St Athan or the north Wales prison. I would have thought, frankly, that the hon. Gentleman, as a lawyer, would be more concerned about the administration of justice. That is the primary concern of our Department and of the Ministry of Justice.

May I thank the Minister for all he is doing to try to right the terrible economic wrongs foisted on us by Labour Members? In doing so, will he also take account of taxpayers’ money that has been spent on Abergavenny court before making any final decision on it?

Yes, indeed. Both the interests of justice and the interests of taxpayers’ money will be fully considered.