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In-house Advocates

Volume 512: debated on Tuesday 22 June 2010

6. If he will estimate the cost to the public purse of the use by the Crown Prosecution Service of in-house advocates in the Crown court in the latest period for which figures are available. (3382)

In 2009-10, the full cost incurred by the Crown Prosecution Service of in-house advocate deployment in the Crown court was £18,552,313. The CPS estimates that it would have cost £27,833,588, excluding VAT and fees, to use self-employed advocates for that work, representing a saving of £9,281,275, excluding VAT. I acknowledge that the methodology for calculating the cost of Crown advocate deployment has been disputed by the Bar Council. I understand that discussions are taking place between the CPS and the Bar Council to try to resolve the matter and to look more generally at sustaining the role of self-employed advocates in the Crown court.

Will my right hon. and learned Friend go further and accept that the best guarantee of cost-effectiveness and quality in the Crown court is the independent bar?

I can reassure my hon. Friend that there is widespread recognition, including by the CPS itself, that the referral bar has an important role to play in the prosecution of offences, and that that must be sustained. It is my intention, working with the head of the CPS, to ensure that that happens.