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Work Placements

Volume 407: debated on Thursday 19 June 2003

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To ask the Solicitor-General how many university students her Department and associated agencies supported or sponsored with a work placement in the last year; what her policy is on work placements; what plans she has to develop such schemes; and what her policy is on paying their university fees. [98495]

On 24 June 2003 the Crown Prosecution Service will be launching a new law scholarship programme, which will sponsor administration and clerical employees to become qualified lawyers.The programme will start with £4.78 million over three years and will sponsor 216 law scholars (rising to 338 in 2005–06) who will get their fees paid and will be supported at work.As well as widening access to the legal profession the programme will extend the availability of Higher education to those with no post-school qualifications, and will assist in the recruitment and retention of CPS employees.The Treasury Solicitor's Department and Serious Fraud Office offer vacation placements under a scheme operated on behalf of the Government Legal Service by the Government Legal Service Secretariat. Through such placements students get an insight into the unique perspective of the law within Government while having the opportunity to sample the attractions of Government legal work as a career choice. The scheme has operated successfully for several years, though we keep it under constant review to see how it could be improved.Seventy six places were offered in 2002 by 12 Government Legal Service Departments. Of these Treasury Solicitor's Department offered 20 places and the Serious Fraud Office offered two places. The scheme is targeted at second year law students and final year non-law students. Departments pay a modest allowance to cover travelling and other expenses but there is no specific contribution to university fees.The Treasury Solicitor's Department, along with a number of other Government Departments, also provides six-month work placements on an annual basis to students from Brunel University who are undertaking a four-year sandwich law degree course. In 2002 there were seven such students. They are paid during their work placement, but there is no specific contribution to university fees.HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate and the Legal Secretariat to the Law Officers are both very small departments and do not have work placement schemes.