Select Committee on Northern Ireland Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 380 - 399)



  380. I am sorry but you have actually given me two different answers. I would like you to be clear which one you want to stick by. You said "I am happy that for planning purposes I have got enough to do the job". Then you said "I am happy that the staff we are providing in our planning will give us enough to do our 15 cases a year". That is not the same thing as doing the job, is it?
  (Mr Stadlen) We are not suggesting that the Agency will have sufficient resources to handle all of the potential targets for civil recovery in the first year, that is certainly the case, we would not claim that.

  381. What about the second year?
  (Mr Stadlen) The aim has been to resource it in such a way that it will be able to use its powers to make an impact. It is a matter of judgment as to how big a caseload is required in order to achieve that.

  382. Are you aware of what an enormous profit centre to the Irish Government the CAB is?
  (Mr Stadlen) We are aware that they have been successful.

  383. Far beyond their costs. Is that not an incentive for you therefore? You would not be able to keep the profits, would you? They would go into general taxation.
  (Mr Stadlen) So far as that is concerned the policy is that up to half the amounts recovered are to be recycled into the Recovered Assets Fund.

  384. Into the Agency?
  (Mr Stadlen) No, into the Recovered Assets Fund. The Government has established a fund called the Recovered Assets Fund.

  385. Yes.
  (Mr Stadlen) This was set up last autumn. It has replaced an earlier narrower fund called the Confiscated Assets Fund. What that fund does is to recycle up to 50 per cent of receipts from confiscation and civil recovery and cash forfeiture into various purposes which are the defined objectives of the scheme. This is an administrative arrangement. The receipts, of course, go into the consolidated fund but there is a policy that up to half of the money, the amount to be decided at the beginning of each financial year, will be available to the Recovered Assets Fund and will therefore enable the monies to be recycled into anti drugs programmes, asset recovery pump priming initiatives, community regeneration initiatives and local crime reduction partnerships.

  Chairman: Okay.

Mr Clarke

  386. Just very quickly, Chairman. You mentioned the planning stage and quite rightly you said you may need more notice of the question but in supplying the Committee with further information could you tell us at the same time what the criteria were for the calculation at planning stage? In other words, did you start from a sum of money in order to see how many staff you could get for a number of cases expected? I think it would be very interesting for us in future to know exactly on what basis the current plan was established? When coming back to us and informing us how the figures were arrived at could you tell us what the criteria were which enabled that calculation?
  (Mr Stadlen) Certainly.

The Reverend Martin Smyth

  387. Following through that question, in your analysis and figures, I can understand you speak about 15 for the first year but then you speak about building up to 20 thereafter. Yet agreeing with your understanding that proportionality cannot be completely accurate, have you come to conclusion (a) that those workers in Ireland are slower and less efficient than the British workers or have you come to conclusion (b) that there is less criminality in the United Kingdom of this nature than in Ireland because those are two of the questions in my mind? The other question I would have to ask is the Home Office still deals with this for Northern Ireland, why have you not actually considered yet the numbers required in Northern Ireland?
  (Mr Stadlen) Obviously we do not think that the staff in Ireland are slower or that they have less crime to contend with. The planning has had to be done and the powers have had to be drafted with the UK in mind. So far as Northern Ireland is concerned, we have been working very closely with the Northern Ireland Office from the outset. You will have seen, I do not know whether you are aware of this, the Bill makes specific provision for Northern Ireland. It requires the Director to indicate in his annual plan how he will perform his functions in Northern Ireland. It requires him to appoint an Assistant Director for Northern Ireland and to consult the Secretary of State in making that appointment. One would hope that those provisions will ensure that the Agency is able to be fully effective in dealing with the particular needs and circumstances of Northern Ireland.

  388. You did say in response to the Chairman earlier that you had not considered the numbers required for Northern Ireland and the question is this because it has not come through to the Northern Ireland Office or from yourself that you have not worked out the numbers which might be required?
  (Mr Stadlen) I think the best answer I can give at the moment is that the planning assumptions have been done in a fairly broad brush way and how the resources are to be distributed between England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be a matter to be decided by the Director in consultation with the Home Office and the Northern Ireland Office.


  389. On a planning basis, what do you expect the Agency's outturn to be in Northern Ireland in terms of the number of civil and criminal cases a year?
  (Mr Stadlen) Again, I do not think we have got a figure that we can give you which is specific to Northern Ireland.

  390. But you have got a UK figure. You just do not know how it will be broken down?
  (Mr Stadlen) That is right.

  391. Would you not expect it to be broken down roughly in terms of the population?
  (Mr Stadlen) I do not think it necessarily follows that it will be broken down by reference to population. As I say, the Director has to take account of the particular needs and circumstances of Northern Ireland, he has to provide for Northern Ireland in his annual plan. No doubt he will be expected to take account also of the organised crime strategy for Northern Ireland.

  392. But you have taken account of that in planning the staffing and funding of this Agency?
  (Mr Stadlen) We have looked at the position in the UK as a whole.

  393. Yes?
  (Mr Stadlen) I cannot say any more than that. Decisions about how the resources are going to be split between England, Wales and Northern Ireland are decisions which have yet to be taken.

  394. You did not discover or seek to discover or decide whether Northern Ireland was going to be a special cases in terms of needing more resources, the same resources or less resources than the rest of the UK?
  (Mr Stadlen) It will certainly receive special treatment in the sense that there is a plan to set up a branch in Northern Ireland.

  395. That does not actually answer my question, Mr Stadlen. Have you made an assessment of whether you will need more resources per head of population because it is Northern Ireland because of the situation there, about the same or less?
  (Mr Stadlen) That issue is being looked at. We do not yet have a decision.

  396. It was not considered when you came up with the overall UK plan?
  (Mr Stadlen) Certainly we consulted the Northern Ireland Office and worked closely with the Northern Ireland Office in producing our planning estimates for the purposes.

  397. Did they tell you they had special problems?
  (Mr Stadlen) Yes, they did.

  398. Which would indicate to you that perhaps more resources than you would normally have expected might be required there?
  (Mr Stadlen) That is possible but as I say no decision on that has yet been taken. I think that analysis needs to be taken further.

  399. In that case, if I may say so, if you do find that Northern Ireland requires extra resources, more than you had prepared, that implies, because you are now on a set number and figure, that the rest of the UK is going to have less?
  (Mr Stadlen) That clearly is right, yes. The distribution has not yet been decided. By definition the more you give to Northern Ireland the less there would be for England and Wales. There is, of course, also a spending round currently underway, a spending review for future years.

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