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Business Plans

Volume 519: debated on Tuesday 30 November 2010

8. What progress has been made in his consideration of publication of internal business plans of the Law Officers’ Department. (27083)

As has been outlined in the House, departmental business plans, as launched on Monday 8 November 2010 are designed to provide key milestones for the fundamental structural reforms being undertaken in a Department, as set out in the coalition programme for government. Where there are currently no plans to undertake major structural reforms, such as for the Law Officers’ departments, no formal requirement has been made to create a business plan. Nevertheless, I am keen that the Law Officers’ departments are transparent in their activities and that they present information about their priorities and performance in a manner that is understandable to the public. The Treasury Solicitor, Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service inspectorate and the National Fraud Authority have published business plans for the current year on their websites. The Crown Prosecution Service, the Serious Fraud Office and my office have internal business plans and consideration is being given to the most appropriate form of publication.

I am grateful to the Attorney-General for that answer, but given that the Law Officers’ Department is in receipt of substantial amounts of public money, why should it not be subject to the same level of transparency as every other Department and have its business plans published on the No. 10 transparency website?

I think that the hon. Gentleman is conflating two issues. If he is concerned about transparency in expenditure, he can obtain such information without difficulty. However, I am prepared to consider publishing it in a new form. The business plan of my Department—that is those officials who work for me—has, in a sense, already been implemented. The Department’s number of employees has reduced from 60 when the Government came to office to 42 today. It has therefore implemented its savings and streamlined its operations. On the other departments that I superintend, I think that the hon. Gentleman will be able to see their direction of travel on their websites. We will see what we can do to ensure that that is set out with greater clarity.