HC Deb 02 July 1998 vol 315 cc518-9
31. Mr. Desmond Swayne (New Forest, West)

What objectives he plans to set for the new Director of Public Prosecutions. [47148]

The Attorney-General

New objectives for the Crown Prosecution Service are being considered, taking into account the findings of Sir Iain Glidewell's review of the Crown Prosecution Service, the cross-cutting comprehensive spending review of the criminal justice system and the Crown Prosecution Service's own comprehensive spending review. The intention is that revised Crown Prosecution Service objectives will contribute to the Government's wider objectives for the criminal justice system as a whole.

Mr. Swayne

How does the right hon. and learned Gentleman propose to ensure a consistent prosecution policy across England and Wales?

The Attorney-General

We hope to continue the work already done by the CPS to ensure national standards and objectives. To be fair to the CPS, great steps have already been taken over many years in that direction. Provided such national standards are adhered to, a great deal of the responsibility for implementing them can be devolved to local police areas.

Mr. Gordon Prentice (Pendle)

Does the Attorney-General agree that it is wrong that DTI inspectors should investigate allegations of insider dealing and report to politicians in the DTI who have the final say? Surely it would be better to transfer the responsibility for investigating insider dealing, under the Financial Services Act 1986, to an independent investigative body such as the CPS, with decisions on prosecutions being taken by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The Attorney-General

These are matters for my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade. Proposals on the future policing of the City have already been announced and are in the public domain.

Mr. Humfrey Malins (Woking)

Will the Attorney-General ensure that the CPS is made fully aware of the fact that, under the Crime and Disorder Bill, the maximum sentence—in terms of custody to be served—available to a magistrates court will be six weeks? Will he give the CPS revised guidelines to ensure that more cases are tried in the Crown courts, where proper sentences can be imposed? Will he bear in mind the fact that many of us think that six weeks' custody is far too low a maximum for magistrates courts?

The Attorney-General

These matters are primarily for the Home Secretary, but I shall certainly consider the hon. Gentleman's point about the CPS. The latter has to decide on the right venue in which to prosecute each and every case; I believe that it does so to ensure that justice is done.

Mr. David Lock (Wyre Forest)

Will my right hon. and learned Friend accept my congratulations on the recent appointment of a new chief executive to the CPS? What role does he see for the new chief executive, bearing in mind the new structure proposed for the CPS in the Glidewell report?

The Attorney-General

I am grateful for my hon. Friend's observations. We have already, as he knows, announced to the House the appointment of the chief executive. He is in post, familiarising himself with his brief. When he has done so, he will consider with the DPP and other relevant Departments how far the Glidewell proposals should be accepted. He will oversee the bringing together of the senior management team for the new structure and he will initiate the selection process for the 42 chief Crown prosecutors, whose actual selection will require the involvement of the new DPP.