The court estate in Gloucestershire, and across England and Wales, is a major asset of Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service. Any new proposals on the future of the courts will be subject to consultation.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his comments. I am very mindful of the state of affairs of Gloucestershire’s court estate. It is important that court buildings provide value for money and meet local demand. I will certainly ensure that his comments are taken on board.
I have discussed the issue of the courts in Gloucestershire—and in Gloucester in particular, where we have a Crown court that predates the battle of Waterloo—with the Minister and his predecessors for several years. As my neighbour and colleague, my hon. Friend the Member for The Cotswolds (Geoffrey Clifton-Brown), has said, our courts are in a dire position. Will he confirm today that the Department will look very closely at the state of the courts and take advantage of the opportunity to use the site we have reserved free of charge in Blackfriars?
I congratulate my hon. Friend on his re-election. I know the issue of the court structure was a key element in the general election. It is good to see that, post-election, he continues to battle for that cause. We have met and corresponded on this issue, so he will be aware that, as we speak, officials are engaged in considering the best way forward.