20 Jul 2001 : Column: 461W

Written Answers to Questions

Friday 20 July 2001


IT Contracts

Mr. Dobson: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list the information technology contracts in excess of £500,000 let by the Cabinet Office or its predecessor since April 1991, giving in each case the original estimated cost and original estimated completion date and the actual cost and actual completion date and the names of the contractors involved and consultants retained by his Department. [3495]

Mr. Leslie: I will write during summer recess and place copies of my letter in the Libraries of the House.

Departmental Units

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list for each of the units dealing with cross-cutting issues based in his Department and for each financial year for which figures are available (a) the number of staff employed, (b) the annual cost of their operations, (c) the cost of capital works to provide premises for their work and (d) their capital and revenue budgets for the current financial year and future years for which the figures are available. [5896]

Mr. Leslie: I will write during summer recess and place copies of my letter in the Libraries of the House.

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister which Minister in his Department oversees the work of each unit run from his Department; which Minister leads on projects arising out of their work; and what their remit and responsibilities are. [6240]

Mr. Leslie: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him by the Deputy Prime Minister on 11 July 2001, Official Report, column 573W.

Senior Managers (Guidance)

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans he has to recommend revision to his Department's guidance to senior managers on better quality services; what assessment he has made of the operation of this guidance to date; and if he will make a statement. [6236]

Mr. Leslie: My officials have conducted a review of the better quality services initiative. Its findings are currently under consideration.

Social Exclusion Unit

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the implementation of the report of the social exclusion unit on truancy and school exclusions published in May 1998. [5895]

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The Deputy Prime Minister: The Department for Education and Skills has lead responsibility for implementing the report, together with other interested departments.

A major investment has been made in supporting schools to tackle truancy and exclusion. The target for reducing permanent exclusions by a third has been achieved a year early. A second target to ensure all pupils excluded from school for more than 15 school days would receive suitable full-time education is on course to be achieved on time by September 2002.

Measures on truancy are taking longer to show results. However, schools and police now have a very full range of powers and resources to tackle the problem, including

The Government are reinforcing this by

Departmental Contracts

Ms Walley: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list the top 10 companies to which his Department contracted out their construction and refurbishment work in the last 12 months. [6427]

Mr. Leslie: I will write during summer recess and place a copy of my letter in the Libraries of the House.

People's Panel

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the purpose and responsibilities are of the people's panel; for what reasons its future is under review; when the review will be completed; and if he will make a statement. [6238]

Mr. Leslie: The people's panel was set up as a representative sample of the adult population of the UK who agreed to be involved in surveys and other forms of research about their views on, and attitudes to, public services and similar matters of public interest.

The individuals who comprise the panel are under no obligation to participate in surveys or other studies, and have no responsibilities.

We have long been committed to evaluation of the panel, as a new initiative, and a small-scale evaluation was conducted last year. The current review will consider its continuing technical viability, its impact on policy formation, usage by Government Departments, and cost-effectiveness. It will be completed in autumn 2001.

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister, pursuant to his answer of 3 July 2001, Official Report, column 124W, if he will list the title, cost and client for each of the projects included in the expenditure totals already given. [6234]

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Mr. Leslie: Details of the title, cost and clients for each of the projects mentioned in my response of 3 July are set out in the tables.

Year 1998–99

Client/titleCost (£)
Cabinet Office Wave 1 (also includes £80,000 for set-up costs)300,000
Wave 289,000
Modernising Government12,750
Management fee to MORI8,000
Top-up recruitment49,250

Year 1999–2000

Client/titleCost (£)
Cabinet Office
Wave 36,000
Women's Unit—Listening to Women63,800
Access pages13,800
Older people4,500
Management fee to MORI40,000
Top-up recruitment49,250
Evaluation report17,690
Attitudes to bio-sciences60,000
Parents' attitudes on value-added school performance tables12,400
The literacy hour2,500
Urban White Paper19,500
Gas safety regulation14,750
Post Office Counter
One-stop shops/electronic service delivery17,000

Year 2000–01

Client/titleCost (£)
Cabinet Office
Open All Hours?14,400
Change of address portal14,200
Wave 468,600
Public services and ethnic minorities68,100
Public awareness of Charter Mark6,000
Social Exclusion Unit—Attitudes to public services in deprived areas14,100
Wave 564,400
The last 12 months52,550
Management fee to MORI36,000
Department of Health
Attitudes towards Human Genetics issues52,500
Health messages and young people30,000
The Patent Office
Benchmarking of intellectual property awareness14,500
Service standards in working agency10,600
Research into public's expectations of transport in the future29,050
Reactions to new GM food leaflet19,200
Country of origin food labelling31,665

Summaries of the research results have been placed in the House Library and full reports are published on my Department's website.

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Mr. Oaten: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister, pursuant to his answer of 3 July 2001, Official Report, column 124W, if the results of projects carried out for clients other than his own Department were published in full. [6235]

Mr. Leslie: The summaries of all research projects using the people's panel have been placed in the House Library. Full reports are available on the Internet at www.servicefirst.gov.uk.


Mr. Keetch: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many cases investigated and rejected by (a) the local government and (b) the parliamentary ombudsmen that have subsequently gone to judicial review have been successful and found in the complainant's favour; and if he will make a statement. [6210]

Mr. Leslie: This information is not held centrally. However, I would refer the hon. Gentlemen to general information on caseload which is published in the ombudsmen's annual reports.

Judy Mallaber: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what action he intends to take following the consultation exercise on the review of the public sector ombudsmen in England. [6445]

Mr. Leslie: This Government are committed to the renaissance of public services, improving access and delivery and driving up standards. The effective handling of complaints is an important element of this programme of renewal, but there will be times where, having pursued a complaint about a particular public service, a complainant remains dissatisfied. Such cases need to be considered independently and that role is fulfilled by, among others, the public sector ombudsmen in England that were the subject of this review. These ombudsmen comprise the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration, the Health Service Commissioner and the Commission for Local Administration (which comprises the three local government ombudsmen and the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration ex officio).

In 1999, following representations from the ombudsmen, the Government announced a review to determine whether the present arrangements are in the best interest of complainants and others, against the background of moves towards more integrated public services and an increasing focus on the needs of the consumers of such services. The review team consulted widely and their report was published in April 2000. A consultation paper seeking views on the review's main recommendations and its other conclusions was published last June. In all we received 174 responses to the consultation paper and copies will be placed shortly in the Library of the House together with a statement of the Government's conclusions.

Briefly, these are that, in light of the responses received to the consultation paper, the Government are satisfied that there is broad support for the review's main recommendations.

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We therefore intend to replace the existing arrangements by a unified and flexible ombudsman body for central and local government and the national health service (excluding NHS Pensions, which will continue to fall under the jurisdiction of the pensions ombudsman, established by Part X of the Pensions Schemes Act 1993 (as amended)). In line with the review's recommendations, there will be direct access to this new body irrespective of whether the complaint is concerned wholly or in part with a central Government body. Furthermore, and again in line with the review's recommendations, the new body will have a collegiate structure within which the individual ombudsmen are identified with a particular group of the bodies under jurisdiction but free to carry out crosscutting investigations. Proposals for the precise powers and accountability of the new body, and on whether its jurisdiction should be extended beyond the bodies subject to the Jurisdiction of the existing ombudsmen, will be published in due course.

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