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26 Nov 2008 : Column 1575W—continued

Departmental Early Retirement

Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Solicitor-General how many employees in the Attorney-General’s Office took early retirement in each of the last five financial years; and at what total cost. [238967]

The Solicitor-General: None

Departmental Manpower

Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Solicitor- General (1) how many (a) special advisers and (b) press officers have been employed by the Attorney-General's Office in each year since 1997-98; and at what cost in each year; [238953]

(2) how many press officers were employed in the Attorney-General's Office in each year since 1997-98; what the total cost was in each year; and if she will make a statement. [239119]

The Solicitor-General: The Attorney General's Office does not employ special advisers; the following table shows the figures for the press officers employed.


26 Nov 2008 : Column 1576W

Number of press officers Costs in (£s)

2000-01

1

34,306

2001-02

1

39,160

2002-03

1

45,340

2003-04

1

45,715

2004-05

2

33,877

2005-06

1

42,458

2006-07

3

62,936

2007-08

3

99,723

Note:
Records prior to 2000 could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Marketing

Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Solicitor General how much (a) the Attorney-General's Office and (b) each of its agencies and non-departmental public bodies spent on (i) publicity and (ii) advertising in each year since 1997-98; and if she will make a statement. [239144]

The Solicitor-General: The Attorney General's Office has not incurred any publicity costs. Costs for advertising are shown in the following table:

Advertising Costs AGO
£

1997-98

(1)

1998-99

1

1999-2000

2

2000-01

5

2001-02

1

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

Total

9

(1) Accounting records are held back to 1998-99; the costs of providing this information prior to this would be disproportionate.

No expenditure has been incurred by the NFSA on publicity and advertising since its establishment as an Executive Agency of the Attorney General's Office on 1 October 2008.

Departmental NDPBs

Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Solicitor-General what the remit is of each non-departmental public body sponsored by her Department; and what budget each has been set for (a) 2008-09, (b) 2009-10 and (c) 2010-11. [236932]

The Solicitor-General: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 20 October 2008, Official Report, column 58W.

Departmental Press Releases

Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Solicitor General how many press releases have been issued by the Attorney-General's Office in each year since 1997-98; and if she will make a statement. [238988]


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The Solicitor-General: The following table shows the number of press releases since 2003, records were not held prior to 2003.

Press releases

Number

2003

13

2004

44

2005

28

2006

13

2007

42

2008

43


Fraud

Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Solicitor-General what criteria are used to determine whether a fraud case is prosecuted by the (a) Serious Fraud Office and (b) Fraud Prosecution Service. [229421]

The Solicitor-General [holding answer 23 October 2008]: Serious Fraud Office and Fraud Prosecution Service decisions on whether or not to prosecute an offence, of any kind, are taken in accordance with the principles set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors, issued by the Director of Public Prosecutions under Section 10 of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985.

Cases must meet one or more of the following criteria: the allegations involve a loss, or risk of loss more than £750,000 for the Fraud Prosecution Service or in excess of £1 million for the Serious Fraud Office; there is a national publicity and/or widespread public concern; highly specialised knowledge is required; a significant element of the case involves inquiries in a foreign jurisdiction.

Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Solicitor-General what the respective responsibilities are of the (a) Serious Fraud Office and (b) Fraud Prosecution Service; and what arrangements are in place to ensure effective liaison between the two organisations. [230930]

The Solicitor-General: The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) both investigates and prosecutes the most serious or complex cases involving fraud or corruption. This dual function makes the SFO unique among the UK’s counter-fraud and counter-corruption agencies.

The Fraud Prosecution Service is responsible for prosecuting fraud cases which fall within its acceptance criteria.

The Serious Fraud Office and the Fraud Prosecution Service have regular liaison at senior management level, and generic and specific issues arising from the investigation and prosecution of fraud cases are formally raised at the Joint Vetting Committee to ensure the effective and appropriate disposal of fraud allegations.

Performance Appraisal

David Simpson: To ask the Solicitor-General how many staff in her Department did not achieve an acceptable assessment grade in their annual report in the latest reporting year for which figures are available. [235212]


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The Solicitor-General: In the last reporting period the Crown Prosecution Service issued six Performance Improvement Notices. For the other Law Officers Departments (Attorney General's Office, Treasury Solicitor's Department, HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate, Serious Fraud Office and Revenue Customs and Prosecutions Office) there have been less than five members of staff that did not achieve an acceptable assessment grade.

Public Opinion

Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Solicitor-General how much the Attorney-General’s Office has spent on (a) focus groups and (b) opinion polls in each year since 1997-98; how much she estimates will be spent on each category in 2008-09; and if she will make a statement. [239047]

The Solicitor-General: The Attorney-General’s Office has not spent any money on (a) focus groups or (b) opinion polls since 1997.

Racial Harassment

David Simpson: To ask the Solicitor-General how many complaints of racial abuse relating to staff for which the Law Offices' Departments are responsible have been (a) investigated and (b) upheld in the last 12 months. [236905]

The Solicitor-General: There have been less than five racial abuse complaints relating to staff in the Law Officer's Departments in the last 12 months, therefore this information cannot be provided on grounds of confidentiality.

Serious Fraud Office

Dan Rogerson: To ask the Solicitor-General whether any Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigations, apart from that into BAe, have been discontinued by the Head of the SFO following receipt of advice from the Attorney-General in the last five years. [231599]

The Solicitor-General: Under section 1(2) of the Criminal Justice Act 1987 the Director of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) discharges his functions under the superintendence of the Attorney-General, who in turn is accountable to Parliament. As part of that relationship the Director may consult the Attorney-General, including about sensitive or difficult cases. The Attorney-General has never sought to direct the Director to take any particular decision.

In all cases, the decision whether or not to proceed with an investigation or prosecution (including the decision to discontinue the investigation into the affairs of BAE Systems plc in so far as they related to the Al-Yamamah defence contract) has been taken by the director of the SFO, and not by the Attorney-General.

Serious Fraud Office: Fraud Prosecution Service

Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Solicitor-General what support and services the Director of the Serious Fraud Office, Richard Alderman, has provided to the Fraud Prosecution Service (FPS) in his role as an external consultant since the FPS was established; and if she will make a statement. [230931]


26 Nov 2008 : Column 1579W

The Solicitor-General: Richard Alderman has never acted as a consultant to the Fraud Prosecution Service (FPS). He was however very happy to contribute to Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate’s review of the FPS and was accordingly interviewed by a member of the review team.

Leader of the House

Members: Allowances

Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Leader of the House pursuant to the answer of 5 November 2008, Official Report, column 461W, on Members: allowances (1) in which circumstances hon. Members may (a) carry forward an unspent balance and (b) ask for an advance in respect of the communication allowance; [239569]

(2) whether the (a) carry forward and (b) advance provisions apply to expenditure transferred in to the communications allowance from (i) incidental expenses provision and (ii) the staffing allowance. [239570]

Chris Bryant: The Green Book rules allow hon. Members some flexibility to transfer funds between years in respect of the communications allowance, the incidental expenses provision and the staffing allowance.

In all cases, Members must seek the agreement of the Department of Resources based on a specific need or circumstance.

Nine requests to carry forward funds from the communications allowance from 2007-08 to 2008-09 were agreed by the Department of Resources. Eight of these were related to difficulties with contractor delivery or invoicing as the financial year came to an end. One case concerned a Member who was unavoidably absent and was unable to complete a project within the year. No Member has requested an advance of funds from a prospective financial year.

The Department of Resources would consider on its merits a request to transfer of funds from the communications allowance to a new financial year if the Member had previously transferred another allowance into the communications allowance.

Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Leader of the House pursuant to the answer of 5 November 2008, Official Report, column 461W, on Members: allowances, whether hon. Members are able to spend the communications allowance during the period once a general election has been announced but Parliament has not yet been dissolved. [239714]

Chris Bryant: Members can only incur costs against the Communications Allowance for the period prior to the Dissolution of the House. The rules for the use of allowances around the time of a general election are set out in the booklet “General Election Arrangements: Rules for Members”. This states that


26 Nov 2008 : Column 1580W

Trade Union and Labour Party Liaison Organisation

Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Leader of the House pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Bassetlaw, 13 October 2008, Official Report, columns 846-47W, on the parliamentary resources unit, how much has been paid to the Trades Union Party Liaison Organisation through the Department of Resources and its predecessors in each year since 2003-04. [239715]

Chris Bryant: The Department of Resources has no record of any payment to the Trades Union Party Liaison Organisation for the period in question.


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