§ Mr. Malcolm Bruce
To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is her estimate of the cost of theft and fraud to(a) her Department, (b) its agencies and (c) non-departmental public bodies, in (i) 1995–96, (ii) 1996–97 and (iii)1997–98 to date. 
§ Mrs. Beckett
[holding answer 5 February 1998]: The estimated cost of theft and internal fraud to my department and its agencies in 1995–96 was £26,000 and £20,000 respectively and in 1996–97 was £1,000 and £260,000. Without incurring disproportionate cost, the data for 1997–98 will not be available until May 1998. Since 1 April 1996, we no longer hold the relevant data in respect of non-departmental public bodies.
The Department takes fraud very seriously. We take immediate and vigorous action if fraud is detected which also helps to deter other frauds.
We have in place procedures laid down by Treasury and regularly reviewed by Internal Audit and the National Audit Office that are designed to prevent fraud in the first place.