HC Deb 20 May 1998 vol 312 cc400-1W
Mr. Gordon Prentice

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will list the consultation papers published since 1 May 1997 giving the date of publication, closing date for submissions and the number of respondents. [42256]

Mr. Tom Clarke

The details requested are as follows:

The Attorney-General

[holding answer 14 May 1998]: On 17 June 1996 my predecessor announced the establishment, in accordance with a recommendation by Sir Richard Scott, of new arrangements for supervision by the Attorney-General to cover prosecutions by HM Customs and Excise involving defence related exports and all sanctions enforcement cases. That superintendence does not extend to investigations.

On 3 April 1998 in accordance with those arrangements, my office received advance notification of a suspected breach by Sandline International of the UN arms embargo against Sierra Leone. In my absence from the office on leave over Easter, the papers were submitted (in the usual way) to the Solicitor-General for noting. I noted the position on my return from leave.

Sir John Stanley

To ask the Attorney-General whether advice was sought from himself or his officials before the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on 10 March formally advised Her Majesty's Customs and Excise of the allegations regarding Sandline. [42074]

The Attorney-General

[holding answer 14 May 1998]: As a matter of convention, neither the substance of the Law Officers' advice, nor the fact that they have been consulted, is disclosed outside Government other than in exceptional circumstances. I see no reason to depart from this convention in this case.

Mr. Garnier

To ask the Attorney-General if he will list all(a) oral and (b) written communications to and from his Department and (i) the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, (ii) the Ministry of Defence, (iii) the Department of Trade and Industry, (iv) Her Majesty's Treasury and (v) Her Majesty's Customs and Excise with regard to Sierra Leone and the export and import of arms since 1 January. [42072]

The Attorney-General

[holding answer 19 May 1998]: HM Customs and Excise have concluded their investigation of allegations, passed to them by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, of a breach of the arms embargo on Sierra Leone and announced their decision that no criminal proceedings will be instituted against any person. The Foreign Secretary has appointed Sir Thomas Legg and Sir Robin Ibbs to conduct a full investigation into events surrounding this case. The report of that investigation will be published.