Previous SectionIndexHome Page


Director of Public Prosecutions

31. Mr. Desmond Swayne (New Forest, West): What objectives he plans to set for the new Director of Public Prosecutions. [47148]

The Attorney-General: New objectives for the Crown Prosecution Service are being considered, taking into account the findings of Sir Iain Glidewell's review of the Crown Prosecution Service, the cross-cutting comprehensive spending review of the criminal justice system and the Crown Prosecution Service's own comprehensive spending review. The intention is that revised Crown Prosecution Service objectives will contribute to the Government's wider objectives for the criminal justice system as a whole.

Mr. Swayne: How does the right hon. and learned Gentleman propose to ensure a consistent prosecution policy across England and Wales?

The Attorney-General: We hope to continue the work already done by the CPS to ensure national standards and objectives. To be fair to the CPS, great steps have already been taken over many years in that direction. Provided such national standards are adhered to, a great deal of the responsibility for implementing them can be devolved to local police areas.

Mr. Gordon Prentice (Pendle): Does the Attorney-General agree that it is wrong that DTI inspectors should investigate allegations of insider dealing and report to politicians in the DTI who have the final say? Surely it would be better to transfer the responsibility for investigating insider dealing, under the Financial Services Act 1986, to an independent investigative body such as the CPS, with decisions on prosecutions being taken by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The Attorney-General: These are matters for my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade. Proposals on the future policing of the City have already been announced and are in the public domain.

Mr. Humfrey Malins (Woking): Will the Attorney-General ensure that the CPS is made fully aware of the fact that, under the Crime and Disorder Bill, the maximum sentence--in terms of custody to be served--available to a magistrates court will be six weeks? Will he give the CPS revised guidelines to ensure that more cases are tried in the Crown courts, where proper sentences can be imposed? Will he bear in mind the fact that many of us think that six weeks' custody is far too low a maximum for magistrates courts?

2 Jul 1998 : Column 519

The Attorney-General: These matters are primarily for the Home Secretary, but I shall certainly consider the hon. Gentleman's point about the CPS. The latter has to decide on the right venue in which to prosecute each and every case; I believe that it does so to ensure that justice is done.

Mr. David Lock (Wyre Forest): Will my right hon. and learned Friend accept my congratulations on the recent appointment of a new chief executive to the CPS? What role does he see for the new chief executive, bearing in mind the new structure proposed for the CPS in the Glidewell report?

The Attorney-General: I am grateful for my hon. Friend's observations. We have already, as he knows, announced to the House the appointment of the chief executive. He is in post, familiarising himself with his brief. When he has done so, he will consider with the DPP and other relevant Departments how far the Glidewell proposals should be accepted. He will oversee the bringing together of the senior management team for the new structure and he will initiate the selection process for the 42 chief Crown prosecutors, whose actual selection will require the involvement of the new DPP.

Crown Prosecution Service

32. Mr. Ian Bruce (South Dorset): If he will make a statement on the reorganisation of the Crown Prosecution Service. [47149]

The Attorney-General: I published the report of the review of the Crown Prosecution Service--the Glidewell

2 Jul 1998 : Column 520

review--on 1 June 1998. Its main thrust, which we accept, lies in proposals for reordering CPS priorities to focus more on the core business of prosecuting, greater separation of management from legal work, greater autonomy for the areas and better prospects for staff.

We immediately accepted the recommendation for the appointment of a chief executive, to which I have just referred, and work is already under way within the CPS and other Departments to consider the recommendations. I expect to provide the House with a progress report in the autumn.

Mr. Bruce: The whole House would respect the Attorney-General for the calm and charming way in which he answers questions in the House. However, if one looks back at the answers that he has given on the Crown Prosecution Service and at the criticism coming from both sides of the House, it is clear that that calm and charm masks a great deal of incompetence in his Department and possibly even on his part. Barbara Mills resigned, rightly, because of the way in which the Crown Prosecution Service was functioning. What about people in the Attorney-General's Department--or will we always be reassured that the CPS is working well, when clearly it has never worked well?

The Attorney-General: I am surprised at the hon. Gentleman's latter comments and grateful to him for his earlier words. We inherited a system that was appallingly bad. We published in opposition "The Case for the Prosecution." I immediately set in train the Glidewell review. It examined in detail what was wrong and produced a report within a very short time--one year--which we are about to implement. We are doing so because the palsied hand of the previous Administration did nothing at all.

2 Jul 1998 : Column 519

2 Jul 1998 : Column 521

Business of the House

3.32 pm

Sir Patrick Cormack (South Staffordshire): May I wish the right hon. Lady a very happy birthday, and ask if she will give us the business for next week?

Mr. Andrew Mackinlay (Thurrock): Charmer.

The President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mrs. Ann Taylor): Very calmly said. I thank the hon. Gentleman.

The business for next week will be as follows:

Monday 6 July--Estimates Day (1st allotted day).

There will be a debate on further education, followed by a debate on the Government's proposals for a freedom of information Act. Details will be given in the Official Report.

The Question will be put on the relevant estimates at 10 pm.

Tuesday 7 July--Opposition Day (16th allotted day).

There will be a debate on the release of information to Select Committees on an Opposition motion.

Motion relating to the Social Security Amendment (Lone Parents) Regulations.

Wednesday 8 July--Until 2 pm, there will be debates on the motion for the Adjournment of the House.

Remaining stages of the Competition Bill [Lords].

Thursday 9 July--Debate on the national health service on a motion for the Adjournment of the House.

Friday 10 July--Proceedings on the Landmines Bill.

The provisional business for the following week will be as follows:

Monday 13 July--Opposition Day (17th allotted day).

There will be a debate on an Opposition motion. Subject to be announced.

Tuesday 14 July--Estimates Day (2nd allotted day).

There will be a debate on the UK beef industry, followed by a debate on the structure and funding of university research. Details will be given in the Official Report.

At 10 pm, the House will be asked to agree all outstanding estimates.

Wednesday 15 July--Until 2 pm, there will be debates on the motion for the Adjournment of the House.

Proceedings on the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) (No. 2) Bill.

Consideration of any Lords amendments which may be received to the School Standards and Framework Bill.

Thursday 16 July--Debate on the economy on a motion for the Adjournment of the House.

Friday 17 July--Debate on NATO enlargement on a motion for the Adjournment of the House.

The House will also wish to be reminded that on Wednesday 8 July there will be a debate on the 1999 preliminary draft budget in European Standing Committee B.

Details of the relevant documents will be given in the Official Report.

2 Jul 1998 : Column 522

[Monday 6 July:

Estimates Day [1st allotted day]--Class IX, vote 1: Department for Education and Employment: programmes and central services in so far as it relates to further education. Relevant reports: the Sixth Report from the Education and Employment Committee, Session 1997-98, on Further Education (HC 264-I); the Department for Education and Employment's Departmental Report: The Government's Expenditure Plans 1998-99 (Cm 3910).

Class CVII, vote 1: Cabinet Office: Office of Public Service in so far as it relates to the Government's proposals for a freedom of information Act. Relevant reports: the Third Report from the Select Committee on Public Administration, Session 1997-98, on Your Right to Know: The Government's Proposals for a Freedom of Information Act (HC 398); the Fourth Report from the Select Committee on Public Administration, Session 1997-98, on Ministerial Accountability and Parliamentary Questions (HC 820).

Tuesday 14 July 1998:

Estimates Day [2nd allotted day]--Class IV, votes 1 and 2: Intervention Board executive agency and Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in so far as they relate to the UK beef industry. Relevant reports: the Third Report from the Agriculture Committee, Session 1997-98, on the UK Beef Industry (HC 474); the Second Report from the Welsh Affairs Committee, Session 1997-98, on the Present Crisis in the Welsh Livestock Industry (HC 447).

Class V, vote 2: Department of Trade and Industry: Science in so far as it relates to the structure and funding of university research. Relevant report: the First Report of the Science and Technology Committee on the Implications of the Dearing Report for the Structure and Funding of University Research (HC 303).

Wednesday 8 July:

European Standing Committee B--RelevantEuropean Community documents: (i) SEC(98)800 and (ii) COM(98)300, 1999 Preliminary Draft Budget. Relevant European Legislation Committee reports: (i) HC 155-xxx (1997-98) and (ii) HC 155-xxxii (1997-98).


Next Section

IndexHome Page