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Abandoned Vehicles

Mr. Love: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the outcome of the operation in respect of abandoned vehicles in Medway; what proposals she is considering for its extension to other local authorities; and if she will make a statement. [42559]

Mr. Meacher: Kent police piloted a "blitz" approach on abandoned vehicles in the Medway area (Operation Cubit) in co-operation with Kent county council, Medway council, DVLA and the Kent fire brigade for eight weeks in early 2001. To inform any decision on Cubit's expansion, the Home Office commissioned a detailed evaluation of the pilot. This is in progress but initial findings are that Cubit was highly effective at removing vehicles from the streets but that since Cubit ceased operations abandoned and untaxed vehicles have been returning to the areas originally targeted.

Since the original pilot in Medway, further operations have taken place and are shown in the table.

Operation CubitDate
SwanleyJune 2001
DartfordOctober 2001
GravesendOctober 2001
MaidstoneJanuary 2002
SwaleJanuary 2002
HastingsFebruary 2002
BrightonFebruary 2002
LiverpoolMarch 2002

To date the operations have removed almost 3,000 abandoned unlicensed vehicles from the streets of Kent and Hastings.We will be making an announcement very shortly about the extension of Operation Cubit to other local authorities.

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures or statistics are collated to quantify the number of abandoned cars dumped by local authority area. [42242]

Mr. Meacher: Information on the number of abandoned vehicles removed by local authorities was collected for the first time in the Department's 2000–01 Municipal Waste Management Survey which should be published in July 2002.

The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) now ask local authorities in England and Wales to include in their waste collection statistics figures on the number of abandoned and surrendered vehicles. The first figures requested cover the period 1 April 1999 to 31 march 2000. This information

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is published in the CIPFA waste collection and disposal statistics and summary tables are available at CIPFA will be requesting this information in future years.

Although the Refuse Disposal (Amenity) Act 1978 does not require local authorities to keep records of the numbers of abandoned vehicles that they deal with, we would expect them to do so because the numbers involved are on the increase and this has implications for their budgets.

Air Conditioning

Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether an installer capable of installing not-in-kind air conditioning was invited to quote for the recent contract for the new departmental building in Temple Quay, Bristol; and if she will make a statement. [41180]

Dr. Whitehead: I have been asked to reply.

Temple Quay house is a leased building and as such contracting for individual elements was not a matter for Government. However, WSP South Ltd. have designed the environmental services to provide a comfortable environment with minimal use of comfort cooling ie air-conditioning by adopting a mixed mode strategy. Full comfort cooling is provided only in areas where this strategy is impractical due to high heat gains eg computer rooms, printing rooms etc.

Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which consultant was used to advise on the installation of air conditioning during the recent equipping of a new departmental building, Temple Quay, Bristol. [41178]

Dr. Whitehead: I have been asked to reply.

WSP South Ltd. and their agents advised on the design and installation of the air conditioning units.


Northern Ireland

32. Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Solicitor-General if she will outline her rights and responsibilities that (a) exist and (b) are proposed in relation to Northern Ireland. [40754]

The Solicitor-General: I can exercise any of the powers of the Attorney-General for Northern Ireland. Following devolution of justice functions to Northern Ireland, I will have the power to exercise all the functions of the Advocate General for Northern Ireland.


37. Derek Twigg: To ask the Solicitor-General what criteria are adopted by the law officers in granting immunity from prosecution. [40761]

The Solicitor-General: An immunity will be granted only if justified in the public interest, and generally where an assessment is made that it is more important to obtain information and assistance from the suspected person than to prosecute that individual.

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Crown Prosecution Service

38. Ian Lucas: To ask the Solicitor-General what steps she takes to monitor the consistency of decisions to prosecute made by the Crown Prosecution Service. [40762]

The Solicitor-General: Prosecution decisions made by the Crown Prosecution Service are taken in accordance with the principles set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors so that it can make fair and consistent casework decisions.

The application of the Code is underpinned by training and by line-management monitoring. In addition, casework performance data are collected and published each year in the Crown Prosecution Service's Annual Report to the Attorney-General and presented to Parliament.

The work of the Crown Prosecution Service is also subject to inspection by HM CPS Inspectorate, an independent statutory body established in 2000. The Chief Inspector is appointed by, and reports to, the Attorney- General on the quality of casework undertaken by the CPS.

Fraud Prosecutions

39. Mr. Bryant: To ask the Solicitor-General what assessment her Department has made of the obstacles to securing prosecutions for major fraud. [40763]

The Solicitor-General: Since its inception, the Serious Fraud Office has identified some common obstacles to securing prosecutions of major fraud cases and these can arise at either the investigative stage or during the trial. During the investigation these can include:

Obstacles at the trial stage include:

Money Laundering

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Solicitor-General what contribution the Serious Fraud Office is making to the Government's objective of reducing money laundering. [40760]

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The Solicitor-General: The Serious Fraud Office investigates and prosecutes offences involving serious or complex fraud. It also pursues related laundering offences. It is investigating or has prosecuted seven cases involving money laundering offences (under the Criminal Justice Act 1988) in the last five years. the Serious Fraud Office also assists foreign competent judicial authorities with requests for information and the gathering of evidence via the UK Central Authority thus serving as an important part of the global deterrent against money laundering.

In many cases, financial gains are illusory or have long since been dissipated but whenever it is appropriate and practicable, the SFO will pursue proceeds during the investigation and these may be confiscated by the trial judge for distribution to creditors and investors. In addition, liquidators or administrative receivers can pursue recovery through civil proceedings.


Public Appointments

Mr. Forth: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will list the appointments made by his Department since 1 May 1997 of chairmen of (a) non-departmental public bodies, (b) commissions, (c) inquiries, (d) agencies and (e) task forces; and if he will list their (i) term of office, (ii) salary and (iii) known political affiliation (A) past and (B) present. [33890]

Mr. Paul Murphy: Information on the number, remit and membership of task forces, ad hoc advisory groups and reviews has been published by the Cabinet Office on a regular basis. The first report was published on 11 January 2000 and gives information for the period from 1 May 1997 to 31 October 1999. A second report was published on 27 July 2000, and covered the period 1 November 1999 to 30 April 2000. A third report was published on 13 December 2000 covering the period 1 May 2000 to 31 October 2000. The most recent report: "Task Forces, Ad Hoc Advisory Groups and Reviews", was issued in October 2001, and covers the period of the financial year 2000–01. Copies of these reports are placed in the Libraries of the House.

Information on political affiliations is sought at appointment stage but is not collected centrally. Membership and voting behaviour is a matter on which all citizens have the right to privacy.

The list of appointments made by my Department since 1 May 1997 has been placed in the Library.

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