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Written Answers to Questions

Monday 10 January 2005


Crown Prosecution Service

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Solicitor-General if she will seek agreement to secure the use of seized funds representing proceeds of crime to reward good working practices in the Crown Prosecution Service. [206424]

The Solicitor-General: The 2004 Spending Review, provided for a new scheme to incentivise criminal justice agencies to recover from criminals the proceeds of their crimes. The Crown Prosecution Service is working with officials from the Serious Fraud Office, the Customs and Excise Prosecution Office, the Home Office the Department for Constitutional Affairs and other partners in the criminal justice system to develop such an incentivisation scheme, for agreement with HM Treasury, to be funded from assets recovered from the enforcement of successful confiscation orders, cash forfeitures and civil recovery.

Full details are under consideration but have not yet been agreed. It is proposed that the new scheme will become operative from April 2006.

The proposed scheme will encourage best practice and incentivise improved performance by all agencies involved in confiscation, cash seizure and civil recovery, to benefit from recovered assets. It should ensure that more criminals are deprived of the benefit they have obtained from criminal conduct.

Departmental Files

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Solicitor-General whether it is the policy of the Department to retain for the benefit of future (a) historians and (b) applicants under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 the same (i) complete categories of files, (ii) numbers of files and (iii) representative examples of files from categories of files destroyed as had been preserved prior to the passage of that Act. [203307]

The Solicitor-General: In accordance with the Public Records Act 1958 S.3, the selection of records of enduring historical value for permanent preservation at The National Archives (TNA) will continue to take place in The Law Officers' Departments under the guidance and supervision of TNA staff. The Department will also comply with the Code of Practice on Records Management, issued by the Lord Chancellor under S.46 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, which underlines the importance of having clear selection policies and disposal schedules in place.

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Solicitor-General how many departmental files have been destroyed in each of the past five years. [203308]

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The Solicitor-General: In accordance with their selection policies and disposal schedules, the Law Officers' Departments have destroyed the following number of files in each of the last five years:
Treasury Solicitor

Number of Files Destroyed

Serious Fraud Office

Number of Files Destroyed

HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate

HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate was created as a result of the Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate Act 2000. In accordance with its selection policies and disposal schedules the Department has yet to destroy any registered files.

Crown Prosecution Service

The information requested is not collated centrally and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

Legal Secretariat to the Law Officers

The information cannot be obtained from existing sources (the software does not enable the destruction of files to be tracked).

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Solicitor-General what changes have been promulgated in each of the past five years to the guidelines or other criteria for the retention or destruction of departmental files. [203309]

The Solicitor-General: Since 1999, the Law Officers' Departments between them have produced at least two schedules for the disposal of records which are specific to its administrative activities. They also disposes of their records in accordance with over 20 guidance notes produced by the National Archives (TNA) over the last five years, covering disposal schedules, managing records in the electronic environment, as well as overarching records management guidance. Further details of this guidance can be found on TNA's website at: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/recordsmanagement/advice.

Invoice Payments

Michael Fabricant: To ask the Solicitor-General what the average length of time was between the date of invoices issued to her Department from a supplier and payment by the Department of the invoice in the last 12 months for which figures are available; what percentage of these invoices were paid within 30 days of the date of issue of the invoice; what percentage of these invoices remained unpaid after 90 days; and if she will make a statement on the Department's policy on the payment of invoices issued to it. [200626]

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The Solicitor-General: During the period 1 April 2003 to 31 March 2004, the Law Officers' Departments paid supplier invoices, on average, as shown in the table. The table also shows, for the same period, the percentage of undisputed invoices which the Departments each paid within 30 days and the percentage which remained unpaid after 90 days, where these figures are available. Where these figures are not held centrally, data could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.
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The Government are committed to improving the payment culture in the United Kingdom in order to create a fair and stable environment for business transactions. The Law Officers' Departments support this policy and are committed to paying all invoices in accordance with agreed contractual conditions or, where no such conditions exist and the invoice is not in dispute, within thirty days of receipt of the goods or services or presentation of a valid invoice.
Law Officers' Departments—Payment of Invoices for the 12 months 1 April 2003 to 31 March 2004

DepartmentAverage length of time between the
date of invoice and payment
Percentage paid within 30 days of the date of issue or within contractual termsPercentage remaining after 90 days
Treasury Solicitor's Department(5507180001)Figures are not kept on the average length of time taken to make payments92.620.61
Crown Prosecution Service(5507180002)28 days(5507180003)80(5507180003)7
Serious Fraud OfficeFigures are not kept on the average length of time taken to make payments92.3Figures are not kept on the length of time invoices are unpaid longer than 90 days

(5507180001) includes figures for the Legal Secretariat to the Law Officers and HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate; the figures do not include payments for Treasury Solicitor's Department disbursements associated with legal cases as these can be subject to further negotiation. However these payments are monitored internally to ensure delay is as low as possible
(5507180002) figures for the Crown Prosecution Service include payments for the services of lawyer agents in the magistrates' courts and external advocates in the Crown Court; they do not include payment of claims for travel and subsistence costs for Witness attendance at court.
(5507180003) figures refer to undisputed invoices

Travel Costs

Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Solicitor-General what the total travel costs to her Department have been for (a) Ministers, (b) special advisers and (c) officials for each year since 1997. [203796]

The Solicitor-General: Since 1999, the Government publishes, on an annual basis, the total costs of all ministerial overseas travel and a list of all visits by Cabinet Ministers costing in excess of £500. Copies of the list are available in the Library of the House.

The Law Officers do not retain any Special Advisers.

Details of the cost of the Law Officers' domestic travel are not held separately from that incurred by officials of the Treasury Solicitors' Department and can be obtained only at disproportionate cost. The total expenditure on travel for each year since 1997 in respect of the Law Officers' Departments is shown in the tables.

All travel is undertaken in accordance with the guidelines set out in the Ministerial Code and Civil Service Management Code.
Treasury Solicitors Department including the Legal Secretariat to the Law Officers and HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate(5507180004)

Cost per annum

(5507180004) Includes travel by the Law Officers and officials.

Crown Prosecution Service

Cost per annum

Serious Fraud Office

Cost per annum

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