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23 Oct 2002 : Column 308W—continued



Mr. Allen: To ask the Solicitor-General if she will make it her policy to publish her advice to HMG on the legality of action against Iraq; and if she will make a statement. [75817]

The Solicitor-General [holding answer 22 October 2002]: There is a longstanding convention, followed by successive Governments, that neither the substance of the Law Officers' advice, nor the fact that they have been consulted, is normally disclosed outside Government. The Law Officers' advice is given in confidence to the Government.

Serious Fraud Office

John Barrett: To ask the Solicitor-General what plans she has for the expansion of the role of the Serious Fraud Office to cover corruption and money laundering. [75072]

The Solicitor-General [holding answer 22 October 2002]: The Director of the SFO is already entitled, under Section 1 (3) of the Criminal Justice Act 1987, to investigate any offence that appears to her on reasonable grounds to involve serious or complex fraud. Offences of corruption and money laundering are therefore already included in the range of offences open to the SFO to investigate provided they meet key criteria. Amongst others, these include where the sum at risk is estimated to be at least #1 million or the case is likely to give rise to national publicity and widespread public concern or the case has a significant international dimension. All or some of these factors can be present in an allegation of corruption or money laundering and if so then the SFO may investigate.

The SFO has, in fact, successfully investigated and prosecuted 10 cases involving offences of corruption and/or money laundering since its inception in 1988. These cases have led to prison sentences or suspended sentences for the defendants, often coupled with disqualification from acting as a company director. The SFO is also currently investigating several similar allegations.


Miss McIntosh: To ask the Solicitor-General if he will make a statement on the level of successful prosecutions for fraud in (a) 1993, (b) 1997 and (c) 2002. [75894]

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The Solicitor-General: The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) collects data each year as follows:

Year (5 April–4 April)Number of DefendantsNumber ConvictedConviction rate
5.4.02–up to 21.10.02121083%

These figures are impressive and consistently high. The SFO also judges its own performance by looking at accumulated figures since its inception in 1988. Here the conviction rate has steadily increased, particularly over the last five years. By 1993 the accumulated conviction rate by defendant was 63 per cent., in 1997 it was 66 per cent. and so far this year it has risen to 71 per cent.


Bovine TB

Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proposals were made by farming industry representatives regarding the softening of the economic impact on the herd movement restrictions as a result of bovine TB during the meeting with them on 27 June. [73741]

Mr. Morley: Farming industry representatives made a number of proposals regarding the softening of the economic impact on herd movement restrictions as a result of bovine TB. Over the summer officials have considered the potential policy options and veterinary risk assessments have been carried out. After further meetings with stakeholders a package of measures was announced on 9 October. One element of the package focuses on the licensed movement off-farm of non-reactor cattle in the following circumstances:

Defra is considering how to manage the risk from movement of animals onto herds affected by TB from farm to farm under a strict protocol. The policy for this is still being developed and it is hoped that an announcement can be made in November.

Warm Front Grant

Mr. Gordon Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what the conversion rate for energy from people applying for a warm front grant has been in each of the last five years for which figures are available in (a) the Blackpool South constituency, (b) the Blackpool Unitary Authority area, (c) in each Government office region and (d) England; [73829]

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Mr. Morley [holding answer 15 October 2002]: Warm Front was launched in June 2000 and provides assistance to certain groups in receipt of a qualifying income or disability benefit by installing packages of insulation and heating measures.

Warm Front does not promote products or sell energy from individual energy companies. Households are free to choose their own supplier and may, like any consumer, opt to change after 28 days. Two Scheme Managers, Eaga Partnership and TXU Warm Front administer Warm Front. Some of the heating measures offered under Warm Front may require the household to be connected up to an additional electrical supply for night storage heaters or mains gas for the first time.

Following a tender exercise an agreement was entered into between Defra and two companies: Scottish Power and TXU Energi. For those requiring a gas central heating the preferred supplier was Scottish Power and for a combined electric and gas fuel supply from the Stay Warm tariff provided by TXU Energi. By August 2002 almost 4,000 homes had received a new gas supply. The majority of these households have not used the preferred suppliers.

Neither Scheme Managers have received complaints about mis-selling of energy contracts. I cannot comment on behalf of OFGEM. The Department has received one specific complaint relating to Nestmakers, an independent organisation jointly and equally owned by Scottish Power and Eaga Partnership Ltd. The allegation was investigated and found to be unproven.

Nestmakers also undertake home surveys for Warm Front in Eaga Partnership's catchment area. Nestmaker surveyors are aware that Warm Front is mutually exclusive to any energy supply contract. Nestmakers will take disciplinary action against any surveyor who is proved to have sold an energy supply contract on the conditional understanding that it was needed to access Warm Front.

Live Animals (Exports)

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what action she is taking to discourage and prevent the export of live animals for slaughter abroad. [75473]

Mr. Morley: We prefer a trade in meat to the export of live animals. However we also accept that European law requires the free movement of goods between EU member states and this includes live animals.

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Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to increase restrictions on the journey times for live animals for slaughter. [75479]

Mr. Morley: At the September Agriculture Council my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State urged discussion on a generally eight hour maximum for journeys within Europe.

Livestock Movement Regulations

Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions she has had with National Assembly for Wales Ministers regarding the 20-day livestock movement regulations. [75165]

Mr. Morley: Ministers have regular discussions with their devolved counterparts regarding animal movement regulations, including the 20 day standstill.

Over-Thirty Months Scheme

Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of applications for the over-thirty month early casualty scheme (a) were able to provide sufficient evidence to satisfy the Intervention Board that they should receive the set rate of, (b) were paid the flat rate of #230 for their casualty animals and (c) are waiting to be paid. [75141]

Mr. Morley: (a) No animals presented into the Early Casualty Scheme were paid 85.6p/kg. Only animals successfully presented onto the main Over Thirty Month Scheme received the full OTMS payment. All successful claims under the Early Casualty provisions, for animals put down between 3 and 24 May 1996 but not presented onto the OTMS, were paid at the flat rate of #230.

(b) 119.

(c) No claims are waiting to be paid. For 60 claims the claimant was unable to produce the required supporting documentation and no payment was made.

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