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Crown Prosecution Service

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Solicitor-General what was the average cost of a decision by the Crown Prosecution Service not to proceed with a prosecution which was at an advanced stage in the last 12 months for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. [148955]

The Solicitor-General: No information is held which enables the Crown Prosecution Service to provide the cost of those cases where, at an advanced stage, a decision was taken not to proceed. During 2000, the average cost of all cases which have been dropped at any stage of the proceedings in the magistrates courts was estimated to be £56.44 per case.

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The CPS conducts an independent review of every case received from the police in accordance with the criteria set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors. There are two stages in the decision to prosecute. Firstly, there must be sufficient evidence to offer a realistic prospect of conviction, and secondly the prosecution must be in the public interest. If a case fails either of these tests, then the CPS must discontinue the proceedings.

A survey conducted during the period October to December 1998 showed that the main reasons for not proceeding were:

The review of a case is a continuing process, and a case may fail either of the criteria for a prosecution at any stage. For example, the CPS may not be aware until the case is listed for trial that a key prosecution witness is unwilling or no longer willing to give evidence. Where this happens, the decision not to proceed can be taken only at this stage even though the costs of reviewing the case and preparing it for the trial have already been incurred.


Press Releases

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many press releases were issued by his Department in the financial years (a) 1996-97, (b) 1997-98, (c) 1998-99 and (d) 1999-2000; how many have been issued in the current financial year; and what his estimate is of the total number for the current financial year. [149242]

Dawn Primarolo: The number of press releases issued by the Treasury for the services of the Central Office of Information (COI), who distribute press releases, can be provided readily in calendar year form as follows:

YearNumber of press notices
2001 to date10

Future numbers cannot be predicted.

Hinduja Brothers

Miss Widdecombe: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer which Ministers and officials in his Department have (a) been contacted by and (b) contacted (i) Mr. G. P. Hinduja and (ii) Mr. S. P. Hinduja since 2 May 1997; if he will list the occasions on which there was such contact; and if he will make a statement. [148141]

Mr. Andrew Smith [holding answer 1 February 2001]: It is not the normal practice of the Government to release details of meetings or discussions with private individuals or companies.

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All relevant papers will be made available to the Inquiry being conducted by Sir Anthony Hammond QC.

Public Expenditure (Definition)

Mr. Jack: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what definition he uses to determine whether an item of public expenditure is defined as (a) Government spending and (b) Government investment. [148832]

Mr. Andrew Smith [holding answer 6 February 2001]: The Treasury uses a definition of aggregate public expenditure and investment derived from the national accounts produced by the Office for National Statistics. An explanation of the definitions and concepts can be found in the introduction to chapter 1 of Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses 2000-01 (Cm 4601).

Working Families Tax Credit

Mr. Field: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many claimants are in receipt of working families tax credit while being paid less than the hourly minimum wage. [148749]

Dawn Primarolo [holding answer 5 February 2001]: This information is not available. It is not possible to establish from the data reported on the Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC) application form alone whether the applicant was entitled under the relevant legislation to the National Minimum Wage (NMW), and at which rate.

Extra data are obtained for those WFTC applications which indicate that the hourly rate of pay is less than the NMW and are subject to further investigation by NMW officers. However, this process does not yield a reliable estimate of the total number of applicants paid below NMW rates.

Mr. Cox: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many (a) families and (b) children living in the London Borough of Wandsworth on 1 January have benefited from the working families tax credit. [149366]

Dawn Primarolo: For the number of families benefiting in Wandsworth, I refer my hon. Friend to my answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster and Wyre (Mr. Dawson) on 22 January 2001, Official Report, column 425W.

The publication referred to in that answer also gives the national average number of children per family receiving Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC). The 5 per cent. sample used for these analyses is too small to yield a reliable separate estimate of the average number of children for families receiving WFTC in Wandsworth.

Miss Geraldine Smith: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what is the estimated number of families in Morecambe and Lunesdale failing to claim Working Families Tax Credit; [148971]

Dawn Primarolo: For the number of families in Morecambe and Lunesdale benefiting from the Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC), I refer my hon. Friend to my answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster

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and Wyre (Mr. Dawson) on 22 January 2001, Official Report, column 425W. No estimate of the number eligible for WFTC is available.

Children's Tax Credit

Mr. Webb: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his answer of 23 January 2001, Official Report, column 568W, regarding Children's Tax Credit, for what reason he did not (a) use child benefit records to identify the address of eligible households and (b) ask non-taxpayer recipients of the claim form to pass it to taxpayers in the household. [148430]

Dawn Primarolo [holding answer 2 February 2001]: I have nothing to add to the answer I gave to the hon. Gentleman on 23 January 2001, Official Report, column 568W.

Tax Credits

Mr. Grogan: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many people in Yorkshire and Humberside receive the disabled person's tax credit; [149447]

Dawn Primarolo: Copies of the latest Quarterly Enquiries giving statistics for the Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC) and the Disabled Person's Tax Credit are in the Library. They contain estimates of the number of recipients in each region.

There is no single definition of what comprises full-time work. The table shows an analysis by hours worked of families in Yorkshire and The Humber receiving WFTC at August 2000.


Hours normally worked, per week, by main earnerRecipients
16 <2026.3
20 <2415.7
24 <3010.1
30 <3617.7
36 <4026.7
40 and over30.1
All cases126.6


Estimates based on a 5 per cent. sample of awards, and therefore subject to sampling error


Mr. Gibb: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will provide a detailed breakdown of the expenditure by Ofgem in 2000-01 on the merger of Offer and Ofgas; and how much of this relates to (a) redundancy, (b) refurbishment costs and (c) dilapidation. [149135]

Mr. Andrew Smith: Ofgem's 2000-01 final costs relating to the merger of Offer and Ofgas will not be available until after the end of the financial year. However, merger costs in 2000-01 are now expected to be around £14 million rather than the initial estimate of £20.2 million.

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Mr. MacShane: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations Corus made to him on the strength of sterling against European currencies in (a) 1997, (b) 1998, (c) 1999 and (d) 2000. [149359]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The Treasury meets a wide range of companies every year to discuss matters of mutual interest. Many of these discussions are conducted in confidence. It would not be practical to identify all representations without incurring disproportionate cost, breaching confidence or both.

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