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Magistrates' Courts Committees: Amalgamations

Volume 548: debated on Tuesday 27 July 1993

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asked Her Majesty's Government:What conclusions they have reached about the amalgamation of magistrates' courts committees outside Greater London.

The White Paper A New Framework for Local Justice, published in February 1992, announced our intention of reducing the number of magistrates' courts committee areas from the present 105 to 50-60 in due course. In the light of extensive consultation with magistrates' courts committees and others in the magistrates' courts service, I have concluded that the following magistrates' courts committees outside Greater London should be amalgamated:Manchester City, Tameside, Oldham and Stockport;Trafford, Salford, Wigan, Bury, Rochdale and Bolton;Knowsley, Liverpool, St. Helens, Sefton and Wirral;Birmingham, Coventry and Solihull;Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton;Newcastle Upon Tyne, North Tyneside and Northumberland;Gateshead, South Tyneside and Sunderland;Leeds and Wakefield;Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees;Sheffield, Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham;Avon and Somerset;Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire;Hereford and Worcester and Shropshire;Hampshire and the Isle of Wight;Devon and Cornwall;Warwickshire and Staffordshire.In Wales, the new magistrates' courts committee areas will cover the following unitary authority areas:Anglesey, Caernarfonshire and Merionethshire, Aberconwy and Colwyn, Denbighshire, Flintshire and Wrexham;Powys, Pembrokeshire, Cardiganshire and Carmarthenshire;Swansea, West Glamorgan and Bridgend;Vale of Glamorgan, Glamorgan Valleys and Cardiff;

Heads of the Valleys, Caerphilly, Torfaen, Newport and Monmouthshire.

These amalgamations can be brought into effect only by an order made by the Lord Chancellor. At present such an order can be made only on the application of the local magistrates. Legislation will be introduced at the earliest opportunity to enable me to make such an order. Before making any order amalgamating magistrates' courts committees area, I will take into account the views of those affected. No order will be made without an opportunity for those locally to make representations. I will therefore require local consultation to have taken place, and views reported to me, when considering whether an order should be made.

All other committee areas outside London should remain organised as they are at present. I will announce my decisions about the future organisation of the magistrates' courts service in London separately.