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Court Provision: Bury

Volume 614: debated on Tuesday 6 September 2016

I warmly welcome my hon. and learned Friend to his new role and thank him for that brief reply. Although court provision might be regarded as adequate now, it is important that it continues to be adequate in the future. I ask the new Lord Chancellor and ministerial team to look again at the proposals for north Manchester and, in particular, at the consequential effects on the police budget, given that the police will be faced with longer journey times when they attend court.

We might be faced with longer questions as well, but we are immensely indebted to the hon. Gentleman nevertheless.

May I start by paying tribute to the work that my hon. Friend has done and the proposals he has made for his local courts? He will know, as a lawyer, that we are investing a huge amount of money—a good £1 billion—to transform our courts and tribunals. Modern technology improves efficiency and means that fewer people need to attend court in person. Excellent facilities are available to the people of Bury and Manchester, which have some of the best courts in the country.

The Minister will know that the proposals across the whole of Greater Manchester are far-reaching and that they are controversial in parts of the city region. Will he explain to the House precisely what was agreed with Greater Manchester combined authority in the memorandum of understanding that his Department signed with it? Does it mean that the combined authority can look again at some of the court closures?

The hon. Gentleman will realise that none of these decisions is taken lightly. It is important to work closely with local government, and that is exactly what has been happening. To give him an impression of the tremendous improvement the court modernisation programme is making, it has been going for four months and 6 million pieces of paper have been avoided as a result.

Yes, 6 million pieces of paper have been avoided by using digital case files. That is a pile of paper as high as the Shard—the largest building in London.

Order. Huntingdon is a splendid part of the world that deserves to be represented effectively by the hon. Gentleman, whom I have known for a quarter of a century, but it is a long way from Bury, to which this question exclusively relates. [Interruption.] Order. The question is about Bury, I say to the young fellow. He can come in later—we look forward to hearing from him.