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Accommodation Costs

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Solicitor-General if she will list for 1997–98 and each subsequent financial year the amount spent by (a) her Department, (b) its agencies and (c) its non-departmental public bodies in respect of hotel and other similar privately-provided accommodation (i) in the UK and (ii) abroad for (A) Ministers, (B) staff and (C) other persons; if she will list the proportion of this cost incurred in respect of (x) food and (y) alcohol in each case; and if she will list the average cost per hotel room or similar unit of accommodation provided in each case. [34385]

The Solicitor-General [holding answer 11 February 2002]: In my own Department, the Legal Secretariat to the Law Officers, the following sums were spent on hotels and other similar privately provided accommodation in 1997–98 and subsequent financial years.













The accounting system used by the Legal Secretariat to the Law Officers does not divide these costs to show the amounts spent on hotels, food and alcohol. It would not be possible to provide details on the cost of hotels without incurring disproportionate cost.

Crown Prosecution Service

In the financial year 1997–98 and each subsequent financial year the Crown Prosecution Service has spent the following amounts on hotels and other similar privately provided accommodation:


This expenditure relates only to CPS staff.

The CPS also reimburses prosecution witnesses who have to stay overnight in order to give evidence at court. The rates applied to such reimbursement are the same as the rates applied to staff expenditure. Expenditure since 1997–98 has been as follows:


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The Department does not maintain separate records for expenses incurred in the UK and abroad. It would not be possible to identify the cost of food without incurring disproportionate cost. Staff may claim a meal and incidental travel cost allowance of £25 and a personal incidental expenditure allowance of £5 per night, while away from home on official business.

The Department does not pay for alcohol for members of staff who travel on official business.

It is not possible to list the average cost per hotel room. From November 1999 new maximum rates were applied to the cost of bed and breakfast of up to £95 per night in London and other metropolitan areas and £65 per night elsewhere.

The marked increase in staff expenditure in 2000–01 compared with the previous years was a result of the aftermath of the Hatfield rail crash and the consequent disruption to public transport. Because of the extended journey times, particularly between the two headquarters' sites in London and York, officers were required to stay overnight more frequently.

Treasury Solicitor's Department

The total amounts spent on both travel and subsistence by the Treasury Solicitor's Department, HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (since April 2001) and the Government Property Lawyers' Agency in the last four years were as follows:















The contract management and financial analysis systems currently in place at the Treasury Solicitor's Department mean that the Department could not provide the detailed information requested without incurring disproportionate cost. These systems are being upgraded as part of the improvement in financial management on which the Department has embarked. Most of the improvements should be concluded in the course of the financial year 2002–03.

Serious Fraud Office

In the financial year 1997–98 and each subsequent financial year the Serious Fraud Office has spent the following amounts on hotel and other similar privately provided accommodation:







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The Serious Fraud Office does not have either agencies or non-departmental public bodies and does not provide financial support to Ministers.

The Department does not pay for alcohol for members of staff who travel on official business.

Details of the breakdown between expenditure on food and accommodation and the average cost of such accommodation could not be made available without incurring disproportionate cost.

Appointments

Mr. Vaz: To ask the Solicitor-General if she will list the appointments she has made since 7 June 2001. [46171]

The Solicitor-General: I have made no appointments as Solicitor-General during the period in question.

Stolen Equipment

Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Solicitor-General, pursuant to her answer of 23 January 2002, Official Report, column 878W, on stolen equipment, what criminal proceedings have been undertaken for cases of theft against her Department, stating in each case (a) whether the proceedings (i) led to a criminal conviction and (ii) were unsuccessful, (b) the cost incurred by her Department in pursuing a conviction and (c) the value of items recovered; and if she will make a statement. [41512]

The Solicitor-General [holding answer 18 March 2002]: In relation to my own Department, the Legal Secretariat to the Law Officers, I am not aware of any equipment having been stolen from the Department since 1 May 1997.

In the Departments for which the Attorney General is responsible, details are as follows:

Crown Prosecution Service Since May 1997 no criminal proceedings have been brought by the Crown Prosecution Service in connection with the stolen equipment listed in reply to Mr. Menzies Campbell's question. No items have been recovered.

Treasury Solicitor's Department No criminal proceedings were undertaken in any of the cases of theft against the Department detailed in response to Mr. Menzies Campbell's question, and no items were recovered. Three of the thefts were reported to the police, and the remainder were investigated internally. The internal investigations did not identify any individuals against whom proceedings could be taken, and the stolen items could not be traced.

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Serious Fraud Office

No criminal proceedings were undertaken in relation to any of the cases of theft against the Serious Fraud Office listed in response to Mr. Menzies Campbell's question, and no items were recovered.

Parental Leave Directive

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Solicitor-General what estimate she has made of the (a) financial costs and (b) benefits to her Department of the Parental Leave Directive. [42492]

The Solicitor-General [holding answer 14 March 2002]: In my own Department, the Legal Secretariat to the Law Officers all staff are on secondment from other Departments. Matters relating to parental leave are dealt with by their parent Departments.

In the Departments for the which the Attorney-General has responsibility, details are as follows.

Crown Prosecution Service

With effect from 1 April 1998, the Crown Prosecution Service's policy on special leave was amended to allow three months parental leave on the grounds of the birth or adoption of a child to all staff who have been employed by the Department for 12 months or longer. This entitlement is available for each child, and can be taken before the child's 8th birthday. In relation to adoption, the leave can ben taken up to eight years after the child is first placed with the family for adoption, or until the child's 18th birthday if that is sooner.

In relation to a child with a disability, parental leave may be taken up to the child's 18th birthday.

At present, the Department does not retain data relating specifically to parental leave and is therefore unable to quantify the financial costs of the Parental Leave Directive.

It is known that during the period from 1 April 2000 to 31 March 2001, 11 members of staff took paternity leave, which amounted to approximately 120 days absence. However, the grades of the staff taking paternity leave were not recorded and therefore the Department cannot give an estimated cost for that period.

Treasury Solicitor's Department

The Treasury Solicitor's Department estimate that there will not be a material financial cost to the Department as a result of the Parental Leave Directive. The cost to the Treasury Solicitor's Department since December 1999 has been £3,083.85.

The benefits of parental leave to the Department have been to reinforce the Department's policy of assisting staff in maintaining a balance between work and home life.

Serious Fraud Office

The Serious Fraud Office has yet to receive an application for parental leave from any of its staff. However, the Department considers the financial implication of granting parental leave to be minimal, as the leave is unpaid.

The Serious Fraud Office sees the benefits of parental leave as being (i) to offer staff more family friendly options and thus improve morale and motivation within

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the Department, (ii) to improve recruitment and retention, (iii) to promote Government policies and (iv) to comply with legislation.


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