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Crown Prosecution Service

23. Keith Vaz (Leicester, East) (Lab): What steps he is taking to ensure that communication between the Crown Prosecution Service and victims of crime is improved. [22036]

The Solicitor General: The Crown Prosecution Service is committed to ensuring that victims are kept informed wherever it is aware of new developments in a case. That can be done either through witness care units or by direct contact with victims. The prosecutor's pledge aims to learn from past mistakes to provide an improved communication with victims.

Keith Vaz: I am glad that the Solicitor-General referred to past mistakes, because he will know the case   of my constituent, Robert Payling, whose son was   murdered in Manchester by someone who was subsequently deported by the immigration and nationality directorate without proper reference to the CPS or the police. That was a complete shambles, as one part of the criminal justice system was unaware of what another part was doing. The CPS did not even inform the family of the victim of the crime. What steps is my hon. and learned Friend taking to ensure that that incompetence is not repeated?

The Solicitor General: The Yin case has, I hope, taught us a valuable lesson about the need for better contacts between the CPS and the IND. A lack of
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information led the IND to deport a Chinese national who was on bail pending trial following the death of James Bishop, a pedestrian who was hit by a care driven by Mr. Yin. From 1 August 2005, under the direct access protocol, new information links were set up between the IND and the CPS to improve the exchange of information. At present, however, there is no duty on the IND to inform the police or the CPS about deportations. More work needs to be done on that. I   regret that at present I cannot give my hon. Friend the assurance that the Yin case will never be repeated, but we are working to try to improve information exchange between the organisations.

Crown Prosecution Service (Northamptonshire)

24. Mr. Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con): What assessment he has made of the performance of the Crown Prosecution Service in Northamptonshire. [22037]

The Solicitor General: The new Crown prosecutor in   Northamptonshire has been appointed to tackle concern about the performance of the CPS. The area has restructured from four to two units, mirroring the police structure in the county. That will provide the necessary resilience, we hope, to service police charging centres as well, and it has freed prosecutors to service additional courts.

Mr. Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con): Victims of crime in Kettering and Northamptonshire would like an assurance from the Minister that all cases involving persistent young offenders will be brought to court within the 71-day target set by the Government.

The Solicitor General: The average time from arrest to sentence for persistent young offenders in the area was reduced from 112 days in April 2005 to 85 days in July 2005, which is a significant shift in a short period of time. The CPS is working closely with the magistrates court to reduce those time scales further by prioritising the listing of young offender cases as soon as they are trial ready. We must make those cases trial ready, which is why the restructuring of the CPS is important, as it will enable it to link up much more effectively with the local police.

Business of the House

11.34 am

Chris Grayling (Epsom and Ewell) (Con): Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We are back to business as usual this morning. Will the Leader of the House give us the business for next week?

The Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Geoffrey Hoon): The business for next week will be as follows:

Monday 31 October—Second Reading of the Terrorism (Northern Ireland) Bill.

Tuesday 1 November—Second Reading of European Union (Accessions) Bill.

The House will be asked to approve motions on the House of Commons Commission; Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund; House of Commons Members' Fund and Public Accounts Commission.

Wednesday 2 November—Consideration in Committee of the Terrorism Bill.

Thursday 3 November—Continuation of Consideration in Committee of the Terrorism Bill.

Friday 4 November—The House will not be sitting.

The provisional business for the following week will be:

Monday 7 November—Second Reading of the Council Tax (New Valuation Lists for England) Bill.

Tuesday 8 November—Consideration in Committee of the Electoral Administration Bill.

Wednesday 9 November—Report Stage of the Terrorism Bill.

Thursday 10 November—Third Reading of the Terrorism Bill.

Friday 11 November—Private Members' Bills.

Chris Grayling: Yesterday the Home Office indicated that it was considering a new "three strikes and you're out" system for supermarkets suspected of selling drinks   to under-age drinkers. You have told Ministers on many occasions, Mr. Speaker, that new policy initiatives should be announced in the House, not through the media. Once again, the first we heard of that announcement was through the media. Why?

When will a Foreign Office Minister come to the House to brief us about the Government's response to the very worrying comments made about Israel yesterday by the Iranian President? I am sure the Leader of the House shares my great concern about what was said.

Following yesterday's revelations from the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, may we have an urgent statement from a Minister in that Department? In particular, the House needs more details about the discussions that have taken place with DNA Bioscience about possible future work with the Child Support Agency. May we also be told what steps are being taken to ensure that no conflict of interest can possibly arise over the substantial shareholding in the company held   by the Secretary of State's family, which may increase substantially in value if the company succeeds in winning business from the CSA?
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Given the difficulties that both the Secretary of State and the Prime Minister's wife are experiencing, may we also have an urgent statement from the Prime Minister about the proposal to create a referee for the ministerial code? Had such a person been in post, the current embarrassment over these difficulties might have been avoided. The Leader of the House will be aware that the Committee on Standards in Public Life made such a recommendation to the Government, which the Prime Minister initially accepted, but nothing has happened since then. In the summer the Committee strongly criticised the Government's failure to act. Will the Government please explain that failure to the House?

Finally, there have been reports this week of turmoil in the Cabinet—in particular the suggestion that the Secretary of State for Health and the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport squared up to each other in the battle over smoking in public places. Would it be sensible for the Leader of the House to ask the Administration Committee to investigate whether Ministers in such a position should be offered anger management counselling to ensure that the strong emotions that clearly exist in the Cabinet do not lead to someone getting hurt?

Mr. Hoon: The hon. Gentleman previously had a distinguished career in the media. I would not seek to advise him about the things that he chooses to believe or not to believe, but his previous career has probably given him a predisposition towards believing what he reads in the newspapers. I caution him against that. I   realise that his training may have prepared him to do that—

John Bercow (Buckingham) (Con): So it is true, then!

Mr. Hoon: I am simply giving the gentlest advice to   the hon. Member for Epsom and Ewell (Chris Grayling).

On supermarkets, I would not judge that that was a policy initiative. I hope that all hon. Members would recognise that it is a matter of enforcing the existing law. The convention, to which Ministers adhere, has always been that new policy announcements should be made on the Floor of the House. We are simply ensuring that the law, which has existed for a long time, is properly enforced. I hope the hon. Gentleman and other hon. Members will join me in welcoming that.

On Iran, that is a very disturbing development. I want the House to know that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has instructed that the Iranian chargé-d'affaires be summoned to the Foreign Office, where he will be told in no uncertain terms of the displeasure that the Government feel about those statements. I have seen some details of the speech, which I thought was thoroughly sickening. Not only this country, but other countries will be protesting about it.

I assure the House that it is my understanding that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions has satisfied all the relevant rules relating to his position and that of his family. The hon. Gentleman raised the question of the Prime Minister's wife. I am sorry he did that. He received a letter earlier this year from the Minister without Portfolio, my right hon. Friend the Member for Makerfield (Mr. McCartney), who speaks on behalf of the Cabinet Office. Nothing new has occurred since then. There is no change in the position from what was set out in that letter.
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In my opening remarks I dealt sufficiently with the hon. Gentleman's final point.

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