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27 Apr 2006 : Column 1264W—continued


Persistent Offenders

23. Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Solicitor-General how persistent and prolific offenders are treated differently from other offenders by the Crown Prosecution Service. [66199]

The Solicitor-General: Persistent and prolific offenders receive a 'Premium Service' from the CPS and other Criminal Justice agencies. CPS prosecutors work with the courts to give these cases priority, and review the progress of these cases with local police crime managers. When presenting these cases CPS prosecutors ensure the full extent of the criminal activity is brought to the attention of the court.

Fraud Review

24. Miss McIntosh: To ask the Solicitor-General pursuant to the written statement of 22 March 2006, Official Report, column 26WS, on the fraud review, what representations he has received on the interim report on fraud. [66201]

The Solicitor-General: The interim report of the Fraud Review was published on 22 March. Since then the Fraud Review team have received representations from the Association of Payment and Clearance Services (APACS) and the Association of British Insurers (ABI).

My right hon. Friend the Attorney-General has also held a seminar involving representatives of the public sector, the legal professions and the private sector to discuss the report's emerging findings.

Victims of Crime

25. Mr. Dodds: To ask the Solicitor-General what steps the Government are taking to ensure victims of crime are kept informed of the progress of prosecutions of defendants accused of crimes against them. [66202]

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The Solicitor-General: In England and Wales, joint CPS/police witness care units must notify victims of all court hearings in their cases and if convicted any sentence received. The Prosecutor's Pledge provides that a prosecutor should inform a victim where a charge is dropped or substantially altered and, where practical, seek the views of the victim when considering the acceptability of a plea.

In Northern Ireland, the victim is notified in all cases when a decision has been made and what that decision is and given contact details from which further information may be obtained. A dedicated section of specially trained staff provide an information line to assist with any queries a victim may have, and, if the victim requests will refer them to specialist support agencies, such as Victim Support. In all regions, PPSNI work closely with police Family Liaison Officers.

Crown Prosecution Service

Mr. Amess: To ask the Solicitor-General what action can be taken against those responsible in cases where the Crown Prosecution Service makes a mistake in not laying charges within a given time period. [65662]

The Solicitor-General: The Code for Crown Prosecutors gives guidance on the general principles to be applied when making decisions about prosecutions. In addition, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has a code of conduct, job descriptions and person specifications so that managers and staff know what is expected of them.

In the event of an apparent failure to deliver to the necessary standard, it is for line management to identify the causes and to take action, whether on grounds of capability or conduct, using the appropriate employment procedures.

Ministerial Meetings

Richard Burden: To ask the Solicitor-General what plans the Attorney-General has to meet the family of (a) Tom Hurndall and (b) James Miller. [66029]

The Solicitor-General: The Attorney-General has agreed to meet with the families of Tom Hurndall and James Miller on Friday 5 May 2006.

Police Forces (Reorganisation)

Mr. Bone: To ask the Solicitor-General what assessment he has made of the potential impact on the Crown Prosecution Service of the proposed reorganisation of police forces. [66428]

The Solicitor-General: The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) will seek to reorganise on a similar basis to the police. Organisational alignments are proving successful on the current boundaries and the CPS would seek to maintain their relationship.



Mr. Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much has been spent to date on the A400M future large aircraft; and when it is likely to enter service. [65218]

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Mr. Ingram: The amount spent to date for the A400M programme at the end of March 2006 was £199 million and the In Service Date (defined as acceptance into service of the 7th aircraft) is 2011.


Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of support by the Pakistan government for insurgents in Helmand province in Afghanistan. [65956]

John Reid: The Government have no credible evidence of direct support by the Pakistani Government to insurgents in Helmand province. President Musharraf has made extensive efforts to improve the rule of law in border areas, and we continue to work with Pakistan to ensure that appropriate action is taken to prevent the border area from providing a safe haven for enemy forces.

African Union

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will increase the number of British military advisors to the African Union; and if he will help with strategic transport, including helicopters, in Sudan. [66715]

Mr. Ingram: The Ministry of Defence is making an important and proportionate contribution in support of the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS). We are providing one staff officer adviser to the Joint Logistics Operations Centre in El Fashir, and will deploy a second officer to the Joint Operations Centre (JOC) when it is established; both under an European Union umbrella. UK personnel have also deployed from within the NATO Command Structure to help co-ordinate the lift of national contingents, as liaison staff at the African Union (AU) headquarters in Addis Ababa and to provide capacity building training for AMIS staff. Further NATO-hatted UK staffs are likely to be deployed in the event that the AU requests additional NATO support. In addition, one UK officer is currently attached to the UN Department for Peacekeeping Operations to help develop UN plans for Darfur. He may likewise deploy to the JOC in an advisory capacity.

The requirement for helicopters has, to date, been met by Canada, while HMG has made a substantial contribution to strategic lift through payment for the movement of three Nigerian battalions. Any further requests from the AU for additional support will be considered on a case-by-case basis.


Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the timescale is for the (a) Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft and (b) Nimrod MRA4 programmes; and if he will make a statement. [64795]

Mr. Ingram: The timescales for these projects will not be set until they have received Main Gate approval.

BAE Systems

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether his Department provided a Crown guarantee to the BAE Systems pension scheme. [66539]

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Mr. Touhig: I can confirm that the Ministry of Defence has not given a Crown guarantee to the BAE Systems pension scheme.

Combined Cadet Force

Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made in implementing the plans announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in February 2006 to create branches of the Combined Cadet Force in state schools. [65916]

Mr. Touhig: There continues to be discussions between the Ministry of Defence and officials at the Department for Education and Skills and the Treasury to ensure the opportunities offered by the Combined Cadet Force (CCF) will be available to the widest possible audience. Progress continues to be made along the lines outlined to the House on 27 March 2006, Official Report, column 532.

In addition, the list of candidate schools continues to be developed with the assistance of officials at the Department for Education and Skills.

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