Memorandum from the Legal Secretariat
to The Law Officers
1. The Legal Secretariat to the Law Officers
is a small Department that exists solely to provide support to
the two Law Officers, the Attorney General and Solicitor General,
in the exercise of their responsibilities. The Law Officers' Departments,
of which LSLO is one, are the Crown Prosecution Service, Treasury
Solicitor's Department, and the Serious Fraud Office. This memorandum
relates only to LSLO, the three other Departments having submitted
separate memoranda to the Committee.
2. In addition to the two Ministers, there
are 32 staff in post, of which 15 are lawyers at SCS or Grade
6 level. The budget for LSLO for 2001-02 is £2.3 million,
of which £1.6 million is salary costs.
3. The primary duty of the Law Officers
is to act as the Government's Chief Legal Advisers. The Law Officers
must also give advice, when called upon, to Parliament and the
Crown. The Attorney General supervises the Crown Prosecution Service
and the Serious Fraud Office and holds Ministerial responsibility
for the Treasury Solicitor's Department. He has oversight of criminal
prosecutions generally, with many of the more serious offences
requiring his consent to prosecution. He has powers to stop prosecutions
on indictment. The Attorney General has many responsibilities
covering a wide field of law. These include issues of contempt,
inquests, charity matters, relater actions and referring unduly
lenient sentences. He acts as Protector of the Public Interest
and will intervene to represent that interest in proceedings before
4. In exercising their responsibilities,
the Law Officers, although part of Government, act independently
of it. This ensures their ability to protect the independence
of the prosecution process, the public interest, and ensures their
ability to give legal advice to Government without fear or favour.
The independent nature of that advice is vital to Government.
5. This introduction to the work of the
Law Officers and of LSLO is to underline and explain the rather
different way in which it must approach issues of sustainable
development. The Law Officers have no policy responsibilities
and LSLO is not a policy Department. It has no legislative programme.
Although as Criminal Justice Ministers, the Law Officers are involved
in legislation dealing with legal issue and crime and courts in
particular, primary responsibility for that legislation lies elsewhere.
6. The possibilities for LSLO taking any
substantial role in promoting sustainable development are therefore
very few. Nevertheless, both the Attorney General and Solicitor
General recognise the importance of promoting sustainable development
and are active in ensuring LSLO does all it can within the limits
imposed on it.
7. LSLO has been active in Green Housekeeping
issues such as waste paper, green electricity, water and power
usage. A Green Minister with responsibility for the other Law
Officer Departrments, the Solicitor General has pressed for continuing
improvements in these areas.
8. In terms of Headline Indicators, H8Crime,
is the one which LSLO may have the greatest impact. Although the
CPS is a reactive agencyit deals with cases brought to
it by the policeit can improve social conditions by ensuring
that cases are dealt with fairly and promptly. The Law Officers
are personally involved in programmes to achieve this such as
the Youth Justice Pledge.
9. The response to the request for specific
information set out below should, therefore, be seen in the context
of what is set out above.
Q1. LSLO has had no direct input to the
UK preparations for the World Summit on Sustainable Development.
The Solicitor General is not a member of MISC18
but is a member of ENV(G). Co-ordination within the Law Officers'
Departments is led by the Crown Prosecution Service as the biggest
of the Departments involved.
Q2. LSLO does not lead on any of the UK
sustainable development indicators. As explained above, the limited
impact it may have is on H8Crime.
Q3. LSLO being a small Department, the Green
Minister, the Solicitor General, takes a personal interest in
ensuring the Department is aware in all areas of the importance
of sustainable development principles.