HC Deb 09 May 2002 vol 385 cc294-5W
Mr. Gray

To ask the Solicitor-General how many contracts the Law Officers Department has with consultants; what level of professional indemnity insurance is standard in contracts with small consultants; whether she can make exceptions to the level of professional indemnity insurance; and what recent discussions she has had with other Government Departments about the level of professional indemnity insurance. [50841]

The Solicitor-General

[holding answer 18 April 2002]: My own Department, the Legal Secretariat to the Law Officers, has no current contracts with consultants.

The Crown Prosecution Service in common with other Government Departments employs the services of consultants from time to time. However, the information requested as to the number of such contracts is not recorded centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

The Department's standard terms and conditions of contract for consultancy work only necessitate consultants to hold professional indemnity insurance where this is required by law. The level of indemnity insurance is not specified and where required would be subject to negotiation and agreement prior to the award of any contract.

The Treasury Solicitor's Department has 28 current contracts with consultants who are assisting it on a range of issues. The level of professional indemnity insurance required is related to the nature of the work required and the assessment of risk attached to it.

At the present time the Serious Fraud Office has nine contracts with small or sole trader consultants covering a range of issues, including information technology and security. In addition there are other specific contracts for expert advice related to operational cases.

Professional indemnity insurance levels are not standardised and are set at a level appropriate to the size of the contract and the risk involved.

HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate has one current contract. The contract does not provide for professional indemnity insurance.

It is not the Government's practice to provide details of discussions which form part of the process of policy development and analysis, therefore I am unable to answer your final question.