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Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 14 February 2006


Abu Hamza

Mr. Cash: To ask the Solicitor-General on what date the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) first decided not to endorse the proposed prosecution of Abu Hamza; whether the CPS consulted the (a) Director of Public Prosecutions and (b) Attorney-General in relation to the case; and if he will make a statement. [51555]

The Solicitor-General: In November 1999 the CPS having consulted Treasury Counsel decided that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute Abu Hamza for offences of kidnap and murder relating to an incident in the Yemen. In 2003 following a submission of further material from the police the CPS again decided that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute Abu Hamza for those offences. The CPS did not consult the Attorney-General about this matter.

In January 2003 police seized tapes connected with Abu Hamza, in April 2003 further tapes were seized. In November 2003 the police submitted a report concerning the tapes to the CPS. CPS advised that further police enquires should be made. In March 2004 the police submitted a further report to the CPS. In May 2004 the police seized further tapes and submitted them to the CPS.

In October 2004 the CPS decided, having taken advice from Treasury Counsel, that there was sufficient evidence to prosecute Abu Hamza for soliciting to murder, incitement to racial hatred and possessing a document containing information likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism. The evidence came from the tapes seized in May 2004 and one tape from those seized in January 2003. On this occasion the Attorney-General was consulted, agreed with the decision to prosecute and gave his consent to the prosecution of the incitement to racial hatred offence in October 2004.

Audible Fire Alarms

Bob Spink: To ask the Solicitor-General what proportion of the premises occupied by the Law Officers is fitted with audible fire alarms. [42872]

The Solicitor-General: All the offices occupied by the Law Officers' Departments 1 are fitted with audible fire alarms in compliance with current fire safety legislation.

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Criminal Justice Act

Mr. Amess: To ask the Solicitor-General what changes were made under the Criminal Justice Act 2003 to the Crown Prosecution Service's power to instigate prosecutions. [51303]

The Solicitor-General: The changes made by the Criminal Justice Act 2003 empower a crown prosecutor, acting under guidance issued by the Director of Public Prosecutions, to determine whether, and if so what, criminal charges should be preferred against alleged offenders who have been arrested or reported for an offence by the police.

The Act considerably enhances the ability of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to influence the efficient progress of casework by ensuring that the right offender is charged with the most appropriate offence.

Previously, the CPS's powers were limited to reviewing and amending police determined charges or in limited circumstances instigating proceedings where the importance or difficulty of the case made it appropriate to do so.

Crown Prosecution Service

Mr. Bone: To ask the Solicitor-General if he will take steps to improve liaison between the Crown Prosecution Service and witnesses in relation to bringing cases to court. [50982]

The Solicitor-General: The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), in partnership with the police, has established 165 witness care units across England and Wales. The units provide a single point of contact for victims and witnesses from point of charge until the conclusion of the case. Dedicated witness care officers ensure that the needs of individual victims and witnesses are identified and met so that they have all the support and information they need to enable them to attend court and to give their best evidence.

As far as vulnerable and intimidated witnesses are concerned, there is the possibility of the witness meeting the prosecution team to discuss what special measures in court may be appropriate for them at trial. Research has shown that there has not been a high take-up of these meetings and the CPS will use this to encourage areas to hold them where appropriate.

In addition the CPS is currently piloting pre-trial interviews with witnesses in four CPS areas. The purpose of the interview is to assess the reliability of the witness's evidence, assist the prosecutor in understanding complex evidence, and to explain the criminal process and procedures to witnesses.

Departmental Expenditure

Mr. Francois: To ask the Solicitor-General how much has been spent in each year since 1997 by the Law Officers' Department on salaries paid to civil servants. [41585]

The Solicitor-General: The salaries paid by the Law Officers' Departments 1 to civil servants between 1997–98 and 2004–05 together with the related percentage of total budget are shown in the following table.

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Financial yearCrown Prosecution Service
Serious Fraud Office
Treasury Solicitor's Department(1)
£ millionPercentage£ millionPercentage£ million£ million£ millionPercentage(2)

(1) Includes figures for the Legal Secretariat to the Law Officers and for HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate from its establishment on 1 October 2000 and separately accounted for from 1 April 2001.
(2) Percentage of total Treasury Solicitor's Department salaries against total budget.
(3) Figures no longer available.

Departmental Vehicles

Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Solicitor-General how many cars are (a) owned and (b) leased by his Department; what models the cars are; what type of petrol each model requires; and what the fuel efficiency is of each model. [41354]

The Solicitor-General: None of the Law Officers' Departments owns any cars.

The Crown Prosecution Service leases 18 vehicles from LoydsTSB Autolease whose fleet contains the vehicle models/type petrol consumption shown in the following chart. The fuel efficiency figures for these vehicles are not known.
Car modelType of petrol
Citroen Berlingo Van 1.4i 600 LXLiquefied petroleum gas
Ford Transit 260 SWB low-roof 2.3LLiquefied petroleum gas
Ford Transit 280 SWB low-roof 2.3LLiquefied petroleum gas
Ford Transit 280 SWB low-roof 2.3LLiquefied petroleum gas
Ford Transit Connect Van 200 SWB 1.8L D/ TEC LLiquefied petroleum gas
Ford Transit Connect Van 210 LWB 1.8LLiquefied petroleum gas
Ford Galaxy 5 door 7ST 2.3i LXLiquefied petroleum gas
Vauxhall Astravan 1.6 Twinport LSLiquefied petroleum gas
Vauxhall Astravan 1.6 Twinport EnvoyLiquefied petroleum gas
Vauxhall Astravan 1.6i LSLiquefied petroleum gas
Vauxhall Combo Van 1700 1.6Liquefied petroleum gas
Vauxhall Combo Van 1700 1.6Liquefied petroleum gas
Vauxhall Combo Van 1700 1.6Liquefied petroleum gas
Vauxhall Combo Van 1700 1.6Liquefied petroleum gas
Vauxhall Zafira 1.6i 16v LifeLiquefied petroleum gas
Vauxhall Vectra 2.2 Dti EstateDiesel

HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate, the Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office, Serious Fraud Office, Treasury Solicitor's Department and Legal Secretariat to the Law Officers do not lease any cars.

For vehicles provided to Government Departments by the Government Car and Despatch Agency (GCDA), my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Transport has asked the chief executive of the GCDA to write to the hon. member with the information requested.

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