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Harry Cohen: To ask the Solicitor-General if he will review the appropriateness of the six-month period of limitation in the light of the Army Prosecuting Authoritys recent decision in a case involving alleged offences at al-Amarah in April 2004; and if he will make a statement. 
The Solicitor-General: There are no current plans to review the six-month statutory time limit under section 127 of the Magistrates Courts Act 1980 as it ensures that summary matters are dealt with expeditiously. This provision applies to the courts martial through the medium of a practice memorandum issued by the Judge Advocate General, designed to ensure equality of treatment between civilians and army personnel.
Susan Kramer: To ask the Solicitor-General what discussions (a) he, (b) the Attorney-General and (c) officials from his Department have had with other Ministers on the recent decision by the Serious Fraud Office not to pursue the investigation into BAE Systems and its aircraft contract with Saudi Arabia. 
The Solicitor-General [holding answer 8 January 2007]: In December 2005 the Attorney-General, in accordance with the well-established procedure known as a Shawcross exercise, sought views from ministerial colleagues as to the public interest considerations raised by the SFO investigation. Such views were provided to the Attorney in December 2005 by the Prime Minister and the then Foreign and Defence Secretaries and updated in September 2006. Further such views were provided to the Attorney by the Prime Minister and the Foreign and Defence Secretaries in December 2006. Those views were conveyed to the Director of the SFO. In addition the Leader of the House of Commons raised the case with the Attorney-General in November 2006. The decision to discontinue the investigation was taken by the SFO in its capacity as the independent prosecuting and investigating authority.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Solicitor-General what meetings (a) the Attorney-General and (b) the Director of the Serious Fraud Office had in 2006 with (i) representatives of BAE Systems and (ii) the UK ambassador to Saudi Arabia; and if he will make a statement. 
Neither the Attorney-General, nor I, nor the Director of the SFO held any meetings with representatives of BAE Systems. The
Director of the SFO met HM ambassador to Saudi Arabia three times (in November and December 2006). I also attended the final meeting. The Attorney-General had no meetings with the ambassador.
(a) The division received £36,053,648 (net £20,259,563) from the collection and disposal of bona vacantia assets. £17 million was transferred to the Consolidated Fund in 2005-06.
(b) 11,461 new cases were notified to the division in 2005-06. During the same period 13,210 cases were completed involving the collection, sale, disclaimer or retention of assets.
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Solicitor-General how many criminal cases were dropped by the prosecution in 2005-06 because of a lack of certainty that a conviction could be obtained; and what guidelines are given on how to determine whether the likelihood of conviction is sufficient for a case to proceed. 
The Solicitor-General: Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) records show that, during the year ending March 2006, proceedings in respect of 61,616 defendants were discontinued or withdrawn at court because the evidential test contained in the Code for Crown Prosecutors was not satisfied.
Guidance to crown prosecutors on whether to proceed with a prosecution is contained in the code and all cases are reviewed in accordance with it. A prosecution can only proceed if both of the tests in the code are met.
Firstly, a crown prosecutor must be satisfied that there is enough evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction. This is an objective test which means that a jury or bench of magistrates or judge hearing a case alone, properly directed in accordance with the law, is more likely than not to convict the defendant of the charge alleged.
If the case passes the evidential test, the crown prosecutor then has to consider whether a prosecution is required in the public interest. A prosecution will usually take place unless there are public interest factors tending against prosecution which clearly outweigh those tending in favour.
The review of a case is a continuing process, and crown prosecutors must take account of any changes in circumstances. This may mean that a case is discontinued or withdrawn at court if there is no longer a realistic prospect of conviction or if it is not in the public interest to continue.
The Solicitor-General: No. In accordance with the principles set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors, the Serious Fraud Office has regard to the public interest in all cases, including where relevant the national security implications.
The Solicitor-General: Crown prosecutors ensure when reviewing a case that it includes the information required to make an informed application for compensation or restitution at the court hearing. The Crown Prosecution Service provides any information required by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority or the Criminal Injuries Compensation Panel within 60 days of receiving the request.
Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what deduction for benefits in kind are permissible against the rates of national minimum wage; when they were last uprated; and by how much in each case. 
Mr. Graham Stuart: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what estimate he has made of the number of UK firms which have relocated to other EU states in each of the last 10 years; and if he will make a statement; 
Mr. McCartney: As companies are not required to report decisions to relocate to other EU member states, it is not possible to produce an estimate of this sort. However, the UK remains the top destination in Europe for inward investment, with 8,019 projects over the last 10 years, creating 430,843 jobs.
We know of 305 inward investments into the UK from other EU member states in 2005-06 of which 140 were helped by the inward investment network of UKTI, RDAs and devolved Administrations. The network seeks out knowledge driven inward investment and makes the strong case to them for the UK as a place to do business. It offers tailored assistance to potential inward investors, for example to find technology partners, skilled staff and suitable sites.
Mr. McGovern: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many complaints have been made to the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate under (a) regulation 7 of the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Business Regulations 2003 and (b) under regulation 9(11) of the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 1976 in the last five years; how many of these complaints were upheld; and how many complaints led to prosecution proceedings. 
Jim Fitzpatrick [holding answer 16 January 2007]: A total of 33 complaints have been made to the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate under regulation 7 of the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Business Regulations 2003. Statistics on complaints made under regulation 9(11) of the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 1976 are not readily available as complaints statistics under these regulations were not disaggregated in this way. One of these complaints was upheld, and a corrective letter sent to the agency concerned. None of the complaints have led to prosecution proceedings.
Jim Fitzpatrick: The Government recognise the important social and economic role that post offices play in rural communities. That is why Government have allocated £750 million to 2008 specifically to support the maintenance of non-commercial branches in rural areas.
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what conditions are placed on the sale of military equipment by (a) the United Kingdom and (b) European Union member states to prevent third-party transfers. 
Malcolm Wicks: Exports from the UK of Military List equipment are subject to rigorous assessment against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria. These criteria include the risk of diversion to third parties.
As a national competence, it is for EU member states to assess their own export licence applications for military equipment using, inter alia, the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports. The code of conduct includes the risk of diversion.
Sir Gerald Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he will reply to the letter of 4 December 2006 from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Mr. N. Joyce. 
Gillian Merron: For information on hospitality and entertainment for Ministers, I refer the hon. Member to the Prime Ministers answer of 9 February 1998, Official Report, column 17W, to the right hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. MacShane) which provides the global figure for Government expenditure on ministerial entertaining and hospitality for official purposes in 1996-97.
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport in what circumstances motorists will be required to retake their driving tests under the EU
directive on driving licences; and when the directive will be implemented in the UK. 
Dr. Ladyman: A new European Union (EU) directive on driving licences (Directive 2006/126/EC) was adopted and published in the Official Journal of the European Communities on 30 December 2006. The directive introduces no requirement to retake driving tests. The directive gives member states until January 2011 to transpose the new measures into national law, and until January 2013 to bring them into effect.
Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much the Highways Agency spent on programme expenditure in Gravesham local authority area in the most recent year for which figures are available. 
Damian Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much the Highways Agency spent on programme expenditure in Ashfords local authority area in the most recent year for which figures are available. 
John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when the last full equal pay audit was conducted in each pay bargaining unit in his Department; at which grades there is a gender pay gap of more than 5 per cent.; and if he will place in the Library a copy of each of the most recent equal pay audits. 
|Date of the last equal pay audit||Bargaining unit||Grades with a gender pay gap above 5 per cent.||Will a copy of the audit be placed in the Library?|
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