15 May 2009 : Column 67WS

Written Ministerial Statements

Friday 15 May 2009


Non-Competitive Government Contracts (Profit Formula)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Quentin Davies): The Government have accepted the findings of the review board for Government contracts as detailed in their report of the 2009 annual review of the profit formula for non-competitive Government contracts. The board’s recommendations will be implemented in accordance with arrangements subsequently agreed with the industry side and recorded in an addendum to the published report. I will be placing a copy of the report in the Library of the House. The recommendations will be implemented for new non-competitive work with effect from 1 June 2009.


Coroners and Justice Bill

The Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor (Mr. Jack Straw): In some rare but very important cases there may be highly sensitive information directly relevant
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to the circumstances of the death but which cannot be made public in any way. To meet this problem the Coroners and Justice Bill contains provisions to dispense with a jury inquest in certain tightly defined circumstances. These provisions have greatly been improved during their Commons’ scrutiny. Now the decisions as to whether to hold a non-jury inquest would be made within the criteria by a High Court judge, sitting as a coroner. The main provisions on this are in clause 11. By clause 12 the blanket ban on the admission of intercept evidence was modified for the purposes of these special inquests.

The Government felt these changes struck a fair and proportionate balance between the interests of bereaved families, the need to protect sensitive material and judicial oversight of the whole process.

However, following further discussions in the House and with interested parties it is clear the provisions still do not command the necessary cross party support and in these circumstances the Government will table amendments to remove clauses 11 and 12 (and the equivalent Northern Ireland provisions) from the Bill.

Where it is not possible to proceed with an inquest under the current arrangements, the Government will consider establishing an inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005 to ascertain the circumstances the deceased came by his or her death. Each case will be looked at on its own individual merits. As with the provisions in respect of the certification of coroners’ investigations, we would expect to resort to such a procedure only in very exceptional and rare circumstances.

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