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29 Oct 2007 : Column 602W—continued


Departments: Public Expenditure

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland on what dates his Department breached its (a) resource, (b) near-cash, (c) administration and (d) capital budgets since 2001; what the total value of each breach was; and what the reason was for each breach. [160320]

David Cairns: The Scotland Office was established on 1 April 1999 and since that date it has not breached its resource budget, near-cash budget, administration budget or its capital budget.

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland in which financial years since 2001 his Department’s outturn for its capital budget at the end of the year was less than planned at the beginning of the year; and what the (a) value and (b) reason for the underspend was in each case. [160339]


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David Cairns: The Scotland Office and the Office of the Advocate General have had a token capital budget of £100,000 in each year since 2001 and the outturn against the budget is as follows:

£000

2001-02

62

2002-03

88

2003-04

13

2004-05

76

2005-06

64

2006-07

0


The underspends between 2001-02 and 2006-07 is to be used to fund capital projects planned for 2007-08.

Labour Party: Elections

David Mundell: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what procedure the right hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire, South (Mr. Alexander) followed on appointment as Labour Party co-ordinator for the Scottish elections in May 2007, in relation to the Ministerial Code, with particular reference to sections (a) 1.2(f), (b) 7.3 and (c) 7.4; what discussions were held with the Permanent Secretary of the Department on this matter; and if he will make a statement. [161393]

David Cairns: My right hon. Friend the Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire, South (Mr. Alexander) was not appointed as Labour Party co-ordinator for the 2007 Scottish Elections. The campaign was run by the First Minister. No conflictof interest therefore arose and, accordingly, no discussions were held with the Head of the Scotland Office.

Personnel

Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many employees of his Department were classified as working in (a) England and (b) Scotland (i) at the last date for which figures are available and (ii) in each of the last 10 years. [155755]

David Cairns: The Scotland Office was established on 1 July 1999. The Office does not classify staff as working in England or Scotland; the Office has staff in London and Edinburgh, some of whom travel regularly between each location as business needs demand.

Solicitor-General

Antisocial Behaviour: Young People

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Solicitor-General what the Crown Prosecution Service's policy is on bringing prosecutions against young people for breach of anti-social behaviour contracts; and if she will make a statement. [161207]

The Solicitor-General: An acceptable behaviour contract is a preliminary, non-statutory intervention designed to tackle low level antisocial behaviour.
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Non-compliance cannot constitute a criminal offence that the Crown Prosecution Service could prosecute. The Crown Prosecution Service does not, therefore, have a policy on prosecutions against young people for breach of such contracts.

Departments: Written Questions

Mr. Harper: To ask the Solicitor-General how many and what percentage of questions tabled to her Department for answer on a named day received a substantive reply on the day named in the last 12 months for which figures are available. [161339]

The Solicitor-General: In the last 12 months 43 named day parliamentary questions were tabled to my office, 40 (93 per cent.) of which received a substantive answer on the day named.

Human Trafficking

Mr. Bone: To ask the Solicitor-General what progress has been made on improving prosecution rates in cases of alleged human trafficking; and if she will make a statement. [160822]

The Solicitor-General: The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is working to improve the number of prosecutions, and the number of offences prosecuted under the human trafficking legislation is increasing year on year. It is important to note that traffickers may not necessarily be charged with specific trafficking offences depending on the facts of the case. Together with other departments, the CPS is implementing the UK Action Plan on trafficking. This should improve the prevention, investigation, enforcement and prosecution of these cases.

Prosecutions

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Solicitor-General what information is collected on the number of prosecutions sought by the police that are rejected by the Crown Prosecution Service. [157977]

The Solicitor-General: I have been asked to respond to this question, which appears to relate both to those cases referred to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) pre-charge, in which the decision of the Service was that no further action should be taken; and post charge, to those in which a decision was taken to drop proceedings.

Under statutory charging, the CPS is responsible for deciding whether a person should be charged with a criminal offence in all indictable only, either way and specified summary offences (which represent approximately 40 per cent. of all cases). In the remaining 60 per cent. of cases either the police retain the decision to charge, or proceedings are commenced by way of a summons.

Pre-charge

CPS records show that during the year ending March 2007, the CPS took a pre-charge decision in 524,111 cases. Of these, the CPS decided that no further action should be taken in the following number of cases:


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Pre-charge decision Number Percentage of all pre-charge decisions

No further action-evidential grounds

169,821

32.4

No further action- public interest

16,276

3.1


Post charge

Where a defendant has been charged with a criminal offence, the case is subject to continuing review by the prosecutor. This process can reveal where there is no longer sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction, or where new information weighs against a prosecution in the public interest. In these circumstances, the CPS will decide to stop the proceedings.

During the year ending March 2007, the CPS stopped proceedings in respect of 107,651 defendants in the magistrates' court, representing 10.8 per cent of the 998,910 cases completed in the magistrates' court; and a further 12,102 defendants in the crown court, representing 13.1 per cent. of the 92,340 cases completed in the crown court.

The aim of statutory charging is to determine the correct charge and build an evidentially strong case from the outset. One of the major benefits of statutory charging agreed with the Police Service is a reduction in the post charge discontinuance rate.

Northern Ireland

Departments: Correspondence

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what guidance his Department follows on the maximum time taken to respond to hon.
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Members’ correspondence; and what performance against that target was in the most recent period for which figures are available. [158588]

Mr. Woodward: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Cabinet Office (Edward Miliband) on 22 October 2007, Official Report , column 45W.

Departments: Expenditure

Mr. Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much was spent on travel and subsistence by officials in his Department in each financial year since 2005-06. [161696]

Mr. Woodward: The following figures represent the amount spent on travel and subsistence by Northern Ireland Office (NIO) officials in each financial year since 2005-06. These figures do not include the NIO’s agencies and executive NDPBs.

Departments: Public Expenditure

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in which financial years since 2001 his Department’s outturn for its capital budget at the end of the year was less than planned at the beginning of the year; and what the (a) value and (b) reason for the underspend was in each case. [160338]

Paul Goggins: The following table illustrates the Northern Ireland Office’s (NIO’s) opening and final budget provisions for capital; capital outturn; capital underspends and reasons for the underspends for each financial year since 2001. These figures represent the NIO Department, its Agencies and Executive NDPBs.

Financial year Opening provision (as per P ublic E xpenditure O utturns White Paper) (£ million) Final provision (as per P ublic E xpenditure O utturns White Paper) (£ million) Capital outturn (£ million) Actual capital underspend (£ million) Reason for capital underspend

2001-02

40

59

42

17

Slippages in police non-severance and criminal justice projects

2002-03

60

69

53

16

Slippages in police non-severance capital projects

2003-04

64

73

50

23

Slippages in policing and security, criminal justice and police non-severance capital projects

2004-05

57

83

71

12

Slippages in police non-severance, PSNI, criminal justice and IT projects

2005-06

66

65

55

10

Slippages in build of new Juvenile Justice Centre and new forensic science laboratory

2006-07

72

85

(1)69

(1)16

Underspend with build of new Juvenile Justice centre and various other projects

(1 )Provisional

The National Audit Office measures spending performance against plans by comparing outturns against final provision following Supplementary Estimates rather than against plans at the start of the
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year—as plans can change during the year for a number of reasons, such as machinery of government and classification changes. The definitive figures for final provision and provisional outturn are published each year in the “Public Expenditure Outturns White Paper”. Changes to plans arising in-year are published in “Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses”, as are differences between provisional and final outturns.

Fireworks

Mr. Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many retailers had their registration to keep fireworks revoked under the Manufacture and Storage of Explosives Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006 in each year since the Regulations came into operation. [161699]

Mr. Woodward: There has been one registration revoked since the Regulations came into operation on 1 December 2006, occurring in October 2007.

Mr. Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how he plans to measure the effectiveness of the Fireworks Public Safety Awareness and Enforcement Campaign launched on 8 October. [161700]

Paul Goggins: The effectiveness of the Fireworks Public Safety Awareness and Enforcement Campaign will be measured by a detailed post-campaign evaluation undertaken by my officials in conjunction with relevant devolved Departments, enforcement agencies, response services and other bodies involved in the campaign.

Homophobia: Performing Arts

Mr. Burrowes: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps the Police Service of Northern Ireland has taken to tackle the public availability of recordings containing lyrics liable to incite homophobic hatred. [160965]

Paul Goggins: The Police Service of Northern Ireland has not received any complaints of publicly available recordings of lyrics made to incite homophobic hatred. In the event of a complaint, a full investigation would be conducted.

The PSNI is committed to tackling all forms of hate crime.

Northern Bank: Robbery

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many Police Service Northern Ireland personnel are working on the investigation into the Northern Bank robbery, broken down by rank. [161557]

Paul Goggins: The Police Service of Northern Ireland continues to investigate the robbery of the Northern Bank in December 2004 and the associated offences connected to that robbery. This is a detailed investigation and it remains a high priority for the service. Resources are allocated in line with the overall operational needs of the investigations currently
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undertaken by the police service and for this reason the number of officers tasked to any investigation can fluctuate. It would not be appropriate to comment further on the details of this policing operation at this time.


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