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Estate Requirements and Disposals

Volume 607: debated on Tuesday 8 March 2016

19. What progress his Department is making on implementation of its strategy on estate requirements and disposals. (903960)

We keep our estate office under review to make sure that it delivers and supports business transformation, operates efficiently and effectively, and delivers best value for the taxpayer. By closing less efficient, poor-quality court buildings, for example, we will raise £40 million to reinvest in the justice system, and have saved hard-working taxpayers £27 million per year.

The Ministry of Justice kindly agreed a year ago to dispose of an unused car park in Gloucester to provide more parking and an additional entrance to our railway station—a very good regeneration cause. The Justice Minister assured me that this would be resolved before the end of the financial year. However, we are almost there and there is still no resolution. Does my hon. Friend therefore agree that the time has come to lock the Courts and Tribunals Service real estate representatives in a room with representatives of Gloucester City Council and Great Western Railway, and to leave them there until they have reached agreement?

That may be a little drastic as a negotiating procedure, but my officials are engaged in conversations with Gloucester City Council. Those are at an advanced stage. My hon. Friend will not expect me to make commercial comments at the Dispatch Box, but I hope that a final decision will be arrived at very shortly. He and I are due to meet shortly, when we will discuss the matter further.

Can the Minister provide any further update on his plans for the Victorian prison estate and, in particular, any information regarding HMP Norwich in my constituency?

I am keen that my hon. Friend should have the most up-to-date response, so I will write to her about that.