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Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 13 March 2001

SOLICITOR-GENERAL

Departmental Policies (South Shields)

Dr. David Clark: To ask the Solicitor-General if he will set out, including statistical information relating as directly as possible to the South Shields constituency, the effects on South Shields of his Department's policies and actions since 2 May 1997. [153082]

The Solicitor-General: In 1999, in line with national policy, the Wearside branch of the Crown Prosecution Service, in liaison with the police, South Tyneside magistrates court and the defence, introduced the Narey proposals. All defendants charged with a criminal offence where a guilty plea is anticipated now make their first appearance before South Shield magistrates court within five working days. All other cases appear in court within 48 hours. Present figures suggest that 50 per cent. of all defendants have their cases finalised far more quickly than previously was the case.

In April 2001, Crown Prosecution Service Northumbria will be altering its structure in line with the proposals of the Glidewell review. This will enable the Crown Prosecution Service to place greater emphasis on the more serious crime cases in Newcastle Crown court. The Crown Prosecution Service, together with other agencies, also helped to draw up a protocol with social services relating to unused material which assists in expediting cases involving child witnesses. The Crown Prosecution Service also has a "fast track" procedure for persistent young offenders cases with the Crown court and youth courts. All these changes illustrate the Government's successful policy of speeding up the work of the criminal justice system.

Since May 1997, the Crown Prosecution Service has successfully prosecuted a number of cases arising in the South Shields area. Of particular note is a "sting operation", set up by undercover police officers in South Shields, in the spring of 1998. This resulted in the recovery of thousands of pounds worth of stolen property and the convictions of 35 defendants who were sentenced to long terms of imprisonment, two of them for 11 years and 12 years respectively. In January 2000, the Crown Prosecution Service also successfully prosecuted two juveniles for the murder of a 46-year-old man in the South Shields area. Following a trial at Newcastle Crown court, they were both convicted of murder and detained during Her Majesty's pleasure.

Actions and policies of the Treasury Solicitor's Department and the Serious Fraud Office affect my right hon. Friend's constituency only indirectly.

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Departmental Policies (Houghton and Washington, East)

Mr. Kemp: To ask the Solicitor-General if he will set out, with statistical information relating as directly as possible to the constituency, the effects on Houghton and Washington, East of the Attorney-General's Department's actions since 2 May 1997. [152989]

The Solicitor-General: In October 1999, in line with national policy, the Wearside branch of the Crown Prosecution Service, in liaison with the police, Houghton-le-Spring magistrates court and the defence, introduced the Narey proposals. All defendants charged with a criminal offence where a guilty plea is anticipated now make their first appearance before Houghton-le-Spring magistrates court within five working days. Present figures suggest that 40 per cent. of all defendants have their cases finalised far more quickly than previously was the case.

In April 2001, Crown Prosecution Service Northumbria will be altering its structure in line with the proposals of the Glidewell review. This will enable the Crown Prosecution Service to place greater emphasis on the more serious crime cases in Newcastle and Durham Crown courts. The Crown Prosecution Service, together with other agencies, also help to draw up a protocol with social services relating to unused material which assists in expediting cases involving child witnesses. The Crown Prosecution Service also has a procedure for "fast tracking" persistent youth offenders cases with the Crown court and youth courts. All these changes illustrate the Government's successful policy of speeding up the work of the criminal justice system.

Since May 1997, the Crown Prosecution Service has successfully prosecuted a number of significant cases arising in the Houghton-le-Spring area. In December 1998, the Crown Prosecution Service successfully prosecuted Stephen Urwin for the murder of an elderly occupant in his home. He was sentenced to life imprisonment. In August 1999, Colin Bainbridge abducted Laura Kane, aged 9, whom he knew, and subsequently raped and murdered her. He was found guilty at a trial at Newcastle Crown court and was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Actions and policies of the Treasury Solicitor's Department and the Serious Fraud Office affect my hon. Friend's constituency only indirectly.

DEFENCE

Defence Analytical Services Agency

Mr. White: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what performance targets have been set for the Defence Analytical Services Agency for 2001-02. [153897]

Mr. Spellar: Key Targets have been set for the Chief Executive of the Defence Analytical Services Agency for Financial Year 2001-02. The targets build on the progress already made by the Agency since it formed in 1992 and are as follows:

Delivery of customer service and quality

The majority of the Agency's business is covered by Service Level Agreements with customers, which set out the targets for timeliness and quality of work. For parts

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of the business where Service Level Agreements are inappropriate, project agreements are in place. The Agency is committed to continuous improvement in the range and quality of the services it provides to customers. Key Targets are:







Efficiency


The Key Target is to deliver output-based efficiency gains with a value of 3 per cent. of the initial running cost allocation.

Armed Forces Pay Review Body

Mr. Martlew: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about reappointments to the Armed Forces Pay Review Body. [153898]

Mr. Hoon: I am pleased to announce that I have re-appointed Lord Gladwin of Clee and Professor David Greenaway each to a second three-year term. These appointments have been conducted in accordance with the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments' guidance on appointments to public bodies.

Aircrew Retention

Mr. Pond: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to review aircrew retention, following the publication of the 2001 report of the Armed Forces Pay Review Body and the chairman's supplementary letter. [153899]

Mr. Spellar: The Ministry of Defence is conducting a Comprehensive Review of Aircrew Retention to examine the reasons why aircrew leave the Services. A study team including representatives from the three Services, HM Treasury and external consultancy will be reviewing our overall need for aircrew against today's employment patterns, their career structures, the flying training system, the current structure of additional flying pay and the commercial airlines recruitment policies and financial packages. This work has now started and I expect to be able to report the outcome to the Armed Forces Pay Review Body in autumn this year.

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Shoeburyness

Mr. Gale: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on what dates depleted uranium shells have been (a) tested and (b) demolished at (i) the Shoeburyness Range and (ii) adjacent mud flats/sandbanks. [149517]

Mr. Spellar [holding answer 8 February 2001]: No reference can be found in Shoeburyness range records to open air firings of depleted uranium projectiles and none is believed to have taken place.

DERA Shoeburyness took over the adjacent Foulness site from the Atomic Weapons Establishment in 1999. This site had an indoor facility, in which some small experimental DU projectiles were fired during the 1980s. The building in which the firings took place was designed to prevent any escape of particulate DU into the atmosphere. It is no longer in use and was decontaminated in 1997.

No DU munitions have been destroyed at Shoeburyness or indeed any other DERA site.

Between September 1999 and June 2000, small quantities of DU long rod penetrators were held temporarily in transit at Shoeburyness, having been delivered to DERA for trials to be conducted by the Eskmeals team at Kirkcudbright.


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