HC Deb 06 March 1996 vol 273 cc235-6W
Mr. Llew Smith

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent on 21 February 1996,Official Report, column 157, if he will set out the improvements in the way the Customs and Excise handles major prosecutions arising from alleged breaches of export control regulations to which he refers. [18533]

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory

The improvements referred to are encapsulated in guidelines which were first issued in July 1991 and later revised and reissued in June 1995. These guidelines cover the handling of sensitive cases, including those concerning breaches of export controls. They reinforce established procedures and introduce a system of formal reviews to ensure that the strength of the evidence and the overall progress of the case are monitored. They formalise a system of consultation and monitoring between investigators, case solicitor and the policy administrators at an early stage in an investigation.

The guidelines provide for a "case co-ordinator" who is appointed from the administrators. They also specify that responsibility for the conduct of a case falls to the Customs solicitor's office and that the case solicitor must regularly review the evidence, reporting regularly to the case co-ordinator in writing and making additional reports as circumstances and changes in the case require.