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Departmental Legal Opinion

Work and Pensions written question – answered on 8th November 2011.

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Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Conservative, Wimbledon

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the cost was of (a) internal and (b) external legal advice commissioned by his Department in the first six months of 2011.

Photo of Chris Grayling Chris Grayling The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

The information is as follows:

(a) The cost of the internal legal services section for the period for the first six months of the financial year is £4.9 million. These are made up of salary costs for lawyers and support staff, plus other costs e.g. training and travel, but do not include departmental overheads e.g. accommodation and IT.

(b) DWP does not hold information in the format requested in relation to expenditure on external legal advice commissioned across the whole of DWP. We could provide the information only at disproportionate cost.

We are able to advise that expenditure on external legal services, commissioned by DWP's internal legal services section for the same period was £2.0 million(1).

External legal advice is commissioned for a variety of reasons. These include the need for specialist advice in areas where relevant expertise does not exist within internal legal services, and particularly complex or important matters where counsel's view may be sought to complement internally produced legal advice.

(1) Expenditure on external legal services comprises a range of payments, including payments to meet other sides' costs, where these are required to be paid as a result of litigation; payments made to counsel from the Attorney-General's approved list for prosecutions, litigation or advisory services; and payments to local agent solicitors for prosecutions, some civil litigation and other occasional work. It does not however include information about legal services provided to DWP pursuant to outsourced arrangements. A more detailed breakdown of this expenditure could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

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