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The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): I have directed my department to carry out a review of pre-trial procedures in serious fraud trials. The purpose of this review will be to conduct a detailed examination of trial procedures in these cases, from the decision to commit or transfer a case to the Crown Court right up to the commencement of the jury trial. The review will assess the extent of current compliance with existing rules and procedures, evaluating their effectiveness and considering whether changes to procedure and case management could aid the delivery of justice in serious fraud cases. The review will involve wide consultation with all bodies involved in serious fraud cases.
To determine whether these procedures, when fully complied with, are the optimal mechanism for case management, or if they should be modified in any way:
To assess whether more fundamental changes to such procedures could provide more effective delivery of justice in serious fraud cases; and
To outline and consider any such changes."
The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Richard): Due to her ministerial appointment, Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale has resigned as a member of the United Kingdom delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Baroness Hayman): The Severn Tunnel is likely to be closed for three weeks in July 1999 to allow the necessary engineering work to be carried out, although these arrangements have not yet been finalised. We understand that the contingency plans that the train operating companies have in place are that Wales & West's trains between Bristol Temple Meads and Cardiff will operate via Gloucester, adding an hour to the journey, with some replacement buses operating between Bristol Temple Meads and Newport and/or Cardiff. Great Western Trains will operate an hourly bus service between Bristol Parkway and Newport.
Baroness Hayman: The Joint Nature Conservation Committee has considered this report to see whether it provides scientific evidence which can be used to identify sites which meet the requirements set out in Article 4(1) of the directive relating to aquatic species which range over wide areas. It has concluded that it does not. Therefore, it is not proposed to identify any SACs for their harbour porpoise interest in the light of this report.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): Targets have been set for the Chief Executive of the Defence Bills Agency for the financial year 1998-99 in accordance with the agency's aim of meeting the requirements of its service level agreement with the Ministry of Defence in a manner which offers best value for money.
The roles of the Defence Bills Agency as defined in its framework document are: the authorisation and payment of bills from MoD's suppliers and contractors; the invoicing and collection of MoD receipts; the maintenance of accounting records for the MoD central ledger; and the provision of financial management information to budget holders.
2. To raise 100 per cent. of invoices within five working days of receipt of correctly-presented instruction.
3. To meet the criteria contracted for in the service level agreement covering debt recovery, management information systems, maintenance of contract records, reduction of overpayments and clearance of credit notes. To deliver these services within the agreed price of £15.587 million for the financial year 1998-99.
4. To achieve a further efficiency improvement over that specified in the service level agreement for 1998-99 of 2½ per cent. in the bills processed to staffing ratio. For 1997-98 the ratio was 6,395 bills processed for each member of staff. The target for 1998-99 is 6,555 bills processed for each member of staff.
5. To ensure that, by 1 January 1999, the agency's internal financial systems are fully compliant with the department's resource accounting and budgeting system.
|West Midlands||Aston, Birmingham|
|Hodge Hill, Birmingham|
|South West||Lands End, Cornwall|
|Weston Super Mare, Somerset|
|S E Wiltshire||6|
|East Midlands||N E Derbyshire|
|South East||Brighton & Hove|
|St Leonards, E Sussex|
|Redcar & Cleveland|
|South Shields, S Tyneside|
|Yorkshire & the Humber||Royston, near Barnsley|
|N & E Barnsley|
|S E Bradford|
|Hammersmith & Fulham|
|Outer London||Barking & Dagenham|
|New Addington (Croydon)|
Baroness Blackstone: The Chancellor announced an extra £1.3 billion for repairs and maintenance of school buildings across the UK in the July 1997 budget. In England, the New Deal for Schools (NDS) has enabled capital projects worth £115 million in 1997-98 and over £500 million in 1998-99 alone. The table below shows how the NDS grant breaks down among the four territorial departments.
By the end of this Parliament, the Government expects the NDS to generate more than £2 billion-worth of capital projects.
In addition, an extra £1 billion was made available for local authority recurrent funding across the UK in 1998-99.