To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what assessment she has made of departmental e-business strategies. 
Mr. Ian McCartney:
All main central Government Departments have now produced initial e-business strategies, as required by the e-government strategic framework I published last year. The strategies are published on the web, and links to them can be found at www.e-envoy.gov.uk/estrats.htm.
The strategies represent an important step towards achieving the Government's target that all services should be available online by 2005. They demonstrate the increasing importance of e-government in transforming the quality of services offered to individuals and to businesses.
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The Government's objective, though, is to do more than put individual services online, important though that is. It is to transform the delivery of Government services, so that they are based on customer needs rather than the structures of government. The departmental e-business strategies represent the first step towards that larger goal, but require further development if that wider objective is to be met.
Building on the foundation provided by the initial versions, Departments will therefore develop their strategies to address the major challenges of e-government: working across organisational boundaries to deliver joined-up services; transforming the internal efficiency of government by organising to meet consumer needs not producer preferences; putting e-government at the heart of strategic planning; and developing new partnerships in service delivery.
I am today publishing a note which explains the strategy process in more detail on the e-Envoy's website. Copies will also be placed in the Library.
LORD CHANCELLOR'S DEPARTMENT
Public Trust Office
To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what steps the Lord Chancellor is taking to reform the Public Trust Office; and if she will make a statement. 
On 1 April 2001 the Public Guardianship Office will become a new executive agency of the Lord Chancellor's Department. Also from 1 April 2001, the Public Trust Office's Court Funds Office will transfer to the Court Service and its trust work to the Office of the Official Solicitor. The Public Trust Office will cease to exist.
The Public Guardianship Office will discharge the Court of Protection's decisions on behalf of people with mental incapacity. In creating the Public Guardianship Office, the Lord Chancellor wishes to promote and protect the financial and social well-being of people with mental incapacity by providing a seamless service that is responsive to their needs. The Public Guardianship Office will provide a service which will strike the right balance between protecting the vulnerable while avoiding unnecessary State intervention.
The Lord Chancellor will retain ministerial accountability for the new agency's performance. The Chief Executive of the Public Guardianship Office will have clear responsibilities for improvements in efficiency, effectiveness and quality of service. These responsibilities are set out in the agency's Framework Document, which will be published and copies placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
A Corporate and Business Plan setting out the Public Guardianship Office's plans to achieve its aim and objectives over the first three years of its operation will be published and copies placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The following Key Performance Measures have been set to challenge the Public Guardianship Office to provide a high quality and efficient service to its clients while developing increasing professionalism as an organisation.
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Public Guardianship Office Executive Agency Key Performance Measures and Targets 2001-02
To develop an effective system for identifying clients needs.
To develop and implement a comprehensive needs assessment system by 31 March 2004.
To increase the proportion of effective visits
To maintain the current level of visits and to develop appropriate criteria as a basis to measure improvements in effectiveness by end June 2001, thereafter to announce challenging targets against which to measure the Public Guardianship Office's performance in increasing the proportion of effective visits.
To increase the percentage of accounts collected on time and reviewed on time, as a basis for effective action to meet clients' needs.
To complete the review of 95 per cent. of accounts received or have requested further information within six weeks of receipt.
To collect 50 per cent. of accounts within two months of the accounting end date, 70 per cent. within four months of the accounting end date; and 100 per cent. within six months of the accounting end date, referring cases to the Court of Protection where necessary or taking other steps to ensure proper accounts are produced on behalf of clients.
To improve investment performance
To ensure that annually 85 per cent. and on a three year rolling basis 80 per cent. of measured funds perform in line with a model performance based upon the Association of Private Client and Investment Managers' (APCIMS) capital indices; or an acceptable performance is achieved, taking into account the client's overall circumstances, including the income generated.
To secure an improved service in: responding to correspondence; payment out; providing information to receivers to enable them to support our clients; closing cases; and to survey at two-yearly intervals to ensure that these are the most important areas for customer care.
Responding to Letter:
Respond to 85 per cent. letters, faxes and e-mails within 15 working days of receipt and 95 per cent. in 20 days.
For 95 per cent. of requests, pay out or despatch direction to external receiver allowing access to funds to use for benefit of client within 15 working days of receipt.
Information to Receivers:
Despatch court orders and directions to applicants, receivers or their representatives in 95 per cent. of cases within 30 days of their being made.
For 95 per cent. of complete applications for final directions, transfer all of clients' assets to personal representatives within 25 days.
To establish protocols for working with our receivers and our partners setting out the outcomes we intend to achieve jointly for clients.
To establish protocols with the key bodies with whom the Public Guardianship Office has regular dealings by April 2002, setting out the outcomes to be achieved jointly for clients and memorandums of understanding setting out the ways the Office and its partners will work together to achieve those outcomes.
To demonstrate our capability through a basket of measures: percentage of staff having required skills and competencies;
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percentage receiving training; an effective research programme which underpins planning to meet clients' needs; and development of an automated case management system.
Staff Skills and Competencies:
At least 90 per cent. of permanent staff to have a current Personal Development Plan which identifies their learning and development needs and makes specific plans to develop their skills and competencies to defined standards.
At least 75 per cent. of permanent staff to receive at least three days training in line with their Personal Development Plan.
To complete at least one research study by 31 March 2002 and Develop and publish a detailed research plan by 31 March 2002.
Automated case management system (MERIS):
To award the contract for an automated case management system to a supplier before end of third quarter 2001-02; design and development by supplier to commence before the end of the fourth quarter 2001-02.
Cost per unit. To develop an appropriate unit cost per case as a basis to measure improvements in efficiency by end June 2001. To announce targets for 2001-02 requiring improvements in efficiency based on the unit cost.
Civil Procedure Rules
Mr. Doug Henderson:
To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will make a statement on the evaluation of the Civil Procedure Rules. 
My Department has today published "Emerging Findings: An Early Evaluation of the Civil Justice Reforms" which sets out the evidence we have so far and plans for further evaluation. The paper shows that the reforms have been generally welcomed and appear to be working well.
The key findings from the report are:
Overall there has been a drop in the number of claims issued, in particular in the types of claim where the new Civil Procedure Rules have been introduced;
Anecdotal evidence suggests pre-action protocols are working well to promote settlement before issue and to reduce the number of ill founded claims;
The system of claimants offers has been welcomed by all interested groups as a means of resolving claims more quickly;
There has been a rise in the number of cases in which Alternative Dispute Resolution is used suggesting that, since the introduction of the Civil Procedure Rules, parties are more likely to try alternative means of settling claims;
The use of single joint experts appears to have worked well. It is likely that their use has contributed to a less adversarial culture, earlier settlement and may have cut costs;
The time between issue and hearing for those cases which go to trial has fallen.
It is too early to provide a definitive view on costs with statistics difficult to obtain and conflicting anecdotal evidence.
Copies of the report have been placed in the Library of the House.