CPS

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 21st December 2000.

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Photo of Professor Ross Cranston Professor Ross Cranston Solicitor General, Law Officers' Department

On my frequent visits to CPS offices around the country, I have been impressed by the commitment and professionalism of staff. Earlier this year, the CPS received a clear indication of the views of staff as a result of the staff attitude survey. Ccnsequently, the CPS board has agreed to a number of measures to improve morale—for example, enhancing the support systems for keeping staff better informed of changes. Long-term planning has also been addressed through the staff attitude survey and stress audit steering group. I return to the point that, importantly, the CPS has been encouraged by additional funding, which is to be made available. That will greatly improve morale and enable staff to do a better job.

Photo of Jim Fitzpatrick Jim Fitzpatrick Labour, Poplar and Canning Town

I thank the Solicitor-General for his response, which shows that historic underfunding is at least in part responsible for poor morale. Is he convinced that the new resources will be sufficient to address the problem and thereby improve morale?

Photo of Professor Ross Cranston Professor Ross Cranston Solicitor General, Law Officers' Department

I certainly am, but it will be hard work, especially in areas such as that represented by my hon. Friend. London faces particular difficulties, but the resources will be provided, new recruitment will start in January and I am confident that the combination of resources and particular measures taken in the CPS will greatly improve efficiency.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

Does the hon. and learned Gentleman accept that the best route to higher morale in the CPS would be for the service to deliver and to know that it is delivering an improved service to the public? To that end, can he tell the House what specific targets for better service delivery have been set, the time scale in which they are expected to be achieved and how the service is doing?

Photo of Professor Ross Cranston Professor Ross Cranston Solicitor General, Law Officers' Department

Briefly, there are a number of targets—for example, for the turnaround of cases—and they are constantly monitored by the inspectorate. As the hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow) knows, we have put the inspectorate on a statutory basis. It is better resourced, does much more work and constantly reports on the operation of areas.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

Does the Solicitor-General think that CPS morale would be improved or otherwise if it were to deal with the cases of about eight members of the Equitable Life board who have scuttled away like rats leaving a sinking ship? Should the matter be investigated by the CPS?

Photo of Professor Ross Cranston Professor Ross Cranston Solicitor General, Law Officers' Department

My hon. Friend raises an important issue. If it were a responsibility of anyone under my aegis, it would be the Serious Fraud Office, but I am not saying that it has gone that far. I am sure that my hon. Friends in the Treasury are considering the matter very closely.