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Serious Fraud Office

Volume 556: debated on Tuesday 8 January 2013

8. What recent assessment he has made of the Serious Fraud Office’s ability to conduct a succession of large-scale inquiries. (135621)

The recent report by Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate demonstrates that the Serious Fraud Office has the ability to conduct large-scale inquiries, although there is scope for improvement. Funding for the Serious Fraud Office is kept under constant review. There is a set budget for the SFO, but as the Prime Minister has previously made clear in relation to the LIBOR investigation, if the SFO needs more resources, they will be provided.

Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman confirm that none of the additional funding promised for the LIBOR investigation has been received by the Serious Fraud Office, and will he explain why? It is envisaged that the investigation will take three years. Why so long?

The undertaking is for up to £3.5 million for each of the next three years to be made available as and when required. When the SFO requires it, it will be made available.

I am grateful to the Attorney-General. I remind the House that, in addition to the two urgent questions granted today, there is a statement followed by a very heavily subscribed Second Reading debate on the Welfare Benefits Up-rating Bill. The UQs will therefore be run strictly to time, but depending on the level of interest, it might not be possible to accommodate all colleagues who are interested. I shall do my best, and I invite the House to do the same.