Magistrates Courts

Oral Answers to Questions — Attorney-General – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 29th April 1996.

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Photo of Elfyn Llwyd Elfyn Llwyd Opposition Whip (Commons) 12:00 am, 29th April 1996

To ask the Attorney-General what percentage of cases in magistrates courts are prosecuted by (a) the in-house Crown Prosecution Service and (b) agent lawyers; and if he will make a statement.[25666]

Photo of Mr Derek Spencer Mr Derek Spencer , Brighton, Pavilion

During the year ending March 1996, 90 per cent. of magistrates court sessions were covered by Crown Prosecution Service lawyers and 10 per cent. by agents.

Photo of Elfyn Llwyd Elfyn Llwyd Opposition Whip (Commons)

That is a rather fantastic statistic, given that the CPS is now up to complement in most areas. When I worked in private practice—firmly on this planet, I might add—agents were usually used to cover up for cases badly prepared by the CPS. I do not know whether that is still the reason; I just wonder why as many as 10 per cent. of cases are covered by agents.

Photo of Mr Derek Spencer Mr Derek Spencer , Brighton, Pavilion

It is done so that the CPS can conduct its business as efficiently and economically as possible. It is out of the question to expect the service to deal with every single case in every court, irrespective of the volume of work that has to be handled. I was in private practice until 1992, and I still appear in the courts so, like the hon. Gentleman, I have some experience.