HC Deb 26 October 1992 vol 212 cc768-9
31. Mr. Flynn

To ask the Attorney-General what new proposals he has to reduce crimes of fraud.

The Solicitor-General (Sir Derek Spencer)

The Serious Fraud Office welcomes the proposals in the Criminal Justice Bill to give the courts of England and Wales a wider jurisdiction over international fraud. It will also give its full support to the new machinery to strengthen co-operation between supervisors and other relevant authorities announced by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer last Thursday.

Mr. Flynn

Does the Solicitor-General agree that the greatest crime of fraud perpetrated against the British people was the lies and deception used by the Conservative party at the general election? Now that the Government have lost all respect and authority with the Prime Minister at war with his own party, is it not time that the Government went to the country—and went now?

The Solicitor-General

The Government are concerned to prevent fraud and that is why we have introduced the Serious Fraud Office, the fraud investigation group and the Criminal Justice Bill. That is the answer to the question that the hon. Gentleman should have asked.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman

Will my hon. and learned Friend seek to simplify the trial procedures in fraud cases which currently make it very difficult to secure convictions? Many fraud cases collapse after long and expensive trials and that can scarcely be a deterrent to further fraud.

The Solicitor-General

Following the result of the Blue Arrow trial in the summer, the Lord Chancellor announced in July that the Government would publish a consultation paper seeking ways to limit the length of such trials and canvassing solutions as to how that should be achieved. I expect that the paper will be produced shortly. However, we do not just have long trials in fraud cases. There are long trials in child abuse cases and in cases of armed robbery. At a recent seminar held by the Bar which I attended, there was virtual unanimity about the fact that legislation is now required in that area and that that was the only solution.

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