HC Deb 17 February 1997 vol 290 cc619-20
26. Mr. Harry Greenway

To ask the Attorney-General how much the Crown Prosecution Service has spent on legal text books and what main publications have been purchased in each of the past three years; and if he will make a statement. [14436]

The Solicitor-General

In the past three full years, such expenditure totalled £985,355, £814,467 and £705,830 respectively. The main publications purchased were "Archbold Criminal Pleading, Evidence and Practice", "Stone's Justices' Manual" and "Wilkinson's Road Traffic Offences"—three textbooks that will be very well known to the right hon. and learned Member for Aberavon (Mr. Morris).

Mr. Greenway

I thank my hon. and learned Friend for his answer. Would those textbooks have been available to the Daily Mail in its treatment of the alleged murderers of Stephen Lawrence? What advice would he find in those books if he were to respond—if he is yet able to say what he will do—to the invitation to my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General to comment on the Daily Mail's action? Does he think that a civil case could succeed in the light of what the Daily Mail has done?

The Solicitor-General

When it comes to legal advice, I am sure that the Daily Mail need spare no expense, unlike the Crown Prosecution Service, which must have regard to proper expenditure. On my hon. Friend's specific question, it would appear that no proceedings can be brought under the Contempt of Court Act 1981 because no proceedings currently exist. My right hon. and learned Friend has already announced that he is giving common law contempt careful consideration and hopes to announce his decision as soon as practicable.