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20 Jun 2005 : Column 809W—continued


Advice to Cabinet

Lynne Jones: To ask the Solicitor-General on how many occasions since 1997 law officers' advice had been presented to the Cabinet orally, prior to the Attorney-General's oral presentation to the Cabinet of his advice on the legality of the war in Iraq. [5919]

The Solicitor-General: The proceedings of Cabinet and Cabinet Committee meetings are not normally disclosed, in order to ensure the protection of information whose disclosure would harm the frankness and candour of internal discussion.

Camp Breadbasket

Adam Price: To ask the Solicitor-General what action the Government have taken as a result of the witness statements from Camp Breadbasket victims sent to the Attorney-General earlier this year. [5541]

The Solicitor-General: Three short unsigned draft witness statements were provided by a solicitor Mr. Phil Shiner to the Army Prosecuting Authority. The prosecutor decided not to seek an adjournment because there was inadequate evidence to confirm the authenticity of the statements, the trial was at an advanced state, and it was not possible to ascertain the required length of the potential adjournment as there was insufficient information to identify the whereabouts of the makers. As the statements appear to support charges other than those before the court, if the witnesses can be identified, further charges can be brought. The material was provided to the defence who also took the view that they did not wish to seek an adjournment, so the trial continued.

The Judge Advocate was made aware of the existence of the material but was not asked for any ruling on it.

The material was passed to the Special Investigation Branch of the Royal Military Police who have twice written to Mr. Shiner to seek his assistance in identifying the makers of the draft statements. This has proved difficult because though they are identified by name and employment, no address is provided and so it is not possible to trace them. Mr. Shiner replied on 21 April saying that he would provide a substantive reply within 28 days. No further reply has been received. While the
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RMP will seek to trace the makers of the draft statements, on the basis of the scant information provided it may not be possible.

Domestic Violence Homicide Cases

Julie Morgan: To ask the Solicitor-General if he will make a statement on prosecutions of domestic violence homicide cases. [4879]

The Solicitor-General: We are committed to tackling domestic violence on every front. Although domestic violence is chronically under-reported, research indicates that it accounts for 16 per cent. of all violent crime and claims the lives of two women each week.

The Crown Prosecution Service recognises that stopping domestic violence and bringing perpetrators to justice must be a priority for our society. It is determined to play its part by prosecuting all such cases, including homicides, effectively.


David Howarth: To ask the Solicitor-General whether the advice set out in paragraphs 34 and 35 of the Attorney's advice on the legality of war in Iraq on 17 March 2003 remains the policy of the Law Officers. [5662]

The Solicitor-General: The Attorney-General, in his parliamentary statement of 17 March 2003, set out his view that the use of force in Iraq was lawful. He considers that any challenge to the use of force would not succeed.

NHS Staff (Attacks)

Mr. Baron: To ask the Solicitor-General if he will assess the merits of issuing guidance similar to that issued in Scotland by the Lord Advocate on decisions to prosecute those who attack health service staff in the summary court or on indictment to the Crown Prosecution Service in respect of similar cases in England and Wales. [5365]

The Solicitor-General: The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decides whether or not to prosecute those who attack health service staff in accordance with the principles set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors.
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The code already provides that a prosecution is likely to be in the public interest if the offence was committed against a person serving the; public, and illustrates the point with the example of a nurse. As such, existing guidance to prosecutors in England and Wales favours the prosecution of anyone assaulting health service staff. There are no plans to change this.


Civil Servants

Dr. Cable: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what value-for-money procurement savings were identified and what reduction in civil service posts occurred in her Department in 2004–05. [4550]

Ms Harman: In pre-Budget report 2004 the Chancellor reported OGC value for money gains in central civil Government procurement for 2003–04 of £2billion. OGC value for money procurement gains for 2004–05 are being calculated and will be published in the 2005 Treasury Autumn Performance report.

In Budget 2005 the Chancellor announced a headcount reduction of 12,500 posts by the end of 2004–05, towards the Government's target of a gross reduction of 84,000 civil service and administrative posts by 2008.

The Department for Constitutional Affairs were not required to make a contribution to the headcount reduction of 12,500 by the end of 2004–05. The Department's target headcount reduction over the SR 04 period is 1,100 by March 2008.

Community Justice Centre (Liverpool)

Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what percentage of defendants attending the Community Justice Centre in North Liverpool have (a) re-offended and (b) complied with their sentence since the centre opened. [5164]

Ms Harman: Between 14 December 2004 and 5 May 2005 34 community sentences have been made (only one offender had more than one case). Of those 33 offenders three have been convicted of a further offence while nine have breached their order.

Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what assessment she has made of crime figures in the area covered by the Community Justice Centre in North Liverpool over the period during which the centre has been in operation. [5165]

Ms Harman: The geographical area covered by the North Liverpool Community Justice Centre, shows a small decrease in 'all crime' between January and June this year, when compared with a similar period in 2004.

At this stage we are unable to break that 'all crime' category down into the CJC targeted offences.

It is too early in the pilot to assess the impact of what is being done at the Centre and its relationship to crime in the area it serves.
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Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many defendants have attended the Community Justice Centre in North Liverpool. [5166]

Ms Harman: Between 9 December 2004 and 10 June2005 over 385 defendants have appeared before His Honour Judge Fletcher, at the North Liverpool Community Justice Centre.

The figures can be further broken down into 349 adult defendants and 39 youth defendants.

Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if she will make a statement on the future of Community Justice Centres following the North Liverpool pilot. [5167]

Ms Harman: The North Liverpool Community Justice Centre is a pilot. It will be fully evaluated to examine whether the Community Justice Centre model should be replicated. In the interim, a second initiative is being developed in Salford. This will test how Community Justice principles, such as responding to local people's priorities about antisocial behaviour, can be applied in magistrates courts. These are the only projects currently planned. Any decisions about the development of future Community Justice initiatives will be taken following the evaluations of these projects.

Coronors Act

Mr. David Jones: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs on how many occasions the procedure provided for under Section 17A of the Coroners Act 1988 has been implemented since 1 January 2000. [5216]

Ms Harman: Section 17A of the Coroners Act 1988 has been invoked six times since 1 January 2000.

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