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Excess Profits

Mr. Chope: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if there is a standard definition of excess profits which is used by the Government; and if he will make a statement. [68001]

Dawn Primarolo: There is no standard definition of excess profit used by the Government.

Taxation

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his answer of 26 June 2002, Official Report, column 945W, on taxation, for what reason the figures in the answer included benefit changes; and if he will make a statement. [66754]

Dawn Primarolo: The figures in the answer referred to included benefit changes in order to provide a comprehensive picture of the cumulative impact on households across the income distribution of Budget measures introduced over the last Parliament.

Lone Parents

Vera Baird: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to make provision to enable lone parents to maintain stable child care arrangements during a period of temporary unemployment once the new tax credits have come into force in April 2003. [67244]

Dawn Primarolo: The working tax credit, which includes support for the costs of eligible child care, is designed to encourage people to take up work and to make work pay for low-income households. So entitlement to it

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will depend on working the required number of hours. It will be based on the hours normally worked by the claimant and will be able, as a result, to continue providing support for short periods when the claimant is unable to work their usual hours. It will also be able to cover short gaps between jobs.

For longer breaks in employment, we will continue to provide help through other channels, especially for lone parents who need to use child care. Lone parents can receive financial assistance through the Adviser Discretion Fund, where up-front child care costs represent a barrier to moving into work. From April 2003 there will also be a dedicated child care co-ordinator in every Jobcentre Plus district to help jobseekers with children to access information on child care provision in their area.

Tax Credits (Scotland)

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many families in Scotland are in receipt of (a) the working families tax credit and (b) the child tax credit. [68483]

Dawn Primarolo: For the number receiving the working families tax credit, I refer the hon. Member to my answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Jarrow (Mr. Hepburn) on 16 January 2002, Official Report, column 293W. The number of families who are eligible for the children's tax credit in Scotland is estimated to be 400,000.

LORD CHANCELLOR'S DEPARTMENT

Computers

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many computers were replaced in his Department in each of the past three years; how the replaced units were disposed of and by which companies; and at what cost. [60750]

Yvette Cooper: It is the policy of the Lord Chancellor's Department to try to make surplus IT equipment available to schools and other non-profit making bodies at low cost. In disposing of its computers therefore, the Department uses Recycle-IT! the UK's largest computer re-use project. They supply second-user systems tailored to the needs of the voluntary, church, education and disabled organisations, embryonic businesses and Third World countries. As Recycle-IT! do not charge for this service, there is no cost to the Department for disposing of redundant equipment.

The following table relates to the limited number of PCs owned and managed directly by the Department. It shows the total number of computers disposed of in each of the last three financial years. It also shows the total number of those computers, which were replaced along with the cost of the replacement computers.

DisposedReplacedCost of replacement
1999–2000302151103,000
2000–01415365435,660
2001–028400
Total801516538,660

The Departments PFI partners own the majority of the IT equipment used. The contract stipulates that 70 per cent. of the equipment provided under the contract must be no more than three years old, and that none should be more than five years old. There are currently 2,800 PC's and laptop computers provided by our PFI supplier. The Department also encourages its PFI partners to use Recycle-IT!


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Knutsford Crown Court

Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what repairs and maintenance is being carried out to Knutsford Crown court; and how much the programme costs. [67186]

Yvette Cooper: Following advice from our specialist conservation consultant, the Lord Chancellor's Department are currently taking forward a project to repair the damaged ceiling to courtroom one (including minor roof repairs), at an estimated cost of £29,000. The Department is also planning to repair the boilers at an estimated cost of £4,000.

Special Advisers

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many special advisers were employed by the Lord Chancellor's Department (a) between 1 May and 31 December 1997 and (b) in each year from 1998 to 2001 inclusive; and what the total amount spent on special advisers by the Department was in each of those years. [41253]

Yvette Cooper: The Department employed no special advisers between 1 May and 31 December 1997 and employed one special adviser in each of the financial years 1998–99, 1999–2000 and 2000–01. The salaries of special advisers are negotiated individually within the stated pay scale which, for each the years in question, was as follows:








Details of costs are not given in order to protect the privacy of the appointee concerned, in line with exemption 12 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will list the number and expected cost to the Lord Chancellor's Department of special advisers in (a) 2001–02 and (b) 2002–03. [43270]

Yvette Cooper: There was one special adviser in the department as at 13 March 2002. The salaries of special advisers are negotiated individually within the stated pay range (up to £125,000, although the Special Advisers Remuneration Committee may award salaries up to £90,000 only: salaries above that figure are set by the Prime Minister). Details of expected costs are not given in order to protect the privacy of the appointee concerned, in line with exemption 12 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

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Libra Project

Mr. Evans: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what estimate he has made of the cost to the Government of a failure of the Libra project to deliver on its core case management application. [55108]

Yvette Cooper: Delivery of a central part of the contract—the office infrastructure and network—is over 75 per cent. complete and office services are being delivered to over 8,500 magistrates court staff.

There have been delays in delivering the software application. We have been in discussion with Fujitsu Services (formerly ICL) on the impact of the delay and to determine the best way forward for the project. The resolution is expected shortly, and the House will be informed of the outcome.

We remain determined to provide magistrates courts with modern computer equipment and standardised IT software. If Fujitsu Systems failed to deliver the Libra software, it would be necessary to meet the requirement from elsewhere in the market. Costs would be dependent on the market conditions and on negotiations.

Chief Justice of Germany

Keith Vaz: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department when she last met the Chief Justice of Germany. [66331]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Neither my right hon. Friend the Lord Chancellor, nor my ministerial colleagues have met the Chief Justice of Germany.

Buildings Insurance

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what the cost of buildings insurance to the Lord Chancellor's Department was (a) before and (b) after 11 September 2001. [66934]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Departments are required to comply with the Government's general policy on insurance which is set out in Government accounting, Chapter 30, para 30.2.5, which notes that Government do not need to purchase insurance to protect the viability of its business and should consider insurance only where the value of claims met would exceed the cost of the insurance premiums. Commercial insurance of a building is acceptable in cases where (a) insurance is a condition of a lease (b) the lessor will not accept a Government indemnity (c) incurring the total cost of the accommodation in question, including the cost of the insurance is more cost effective than other accommodation options [Government Accounting, para 30.2.11a]

The Lord Chancellor's Department incurs insurance costs as a condition of their lease on various leasehold properties they occupy through the landlord service charges levied. Details of the annual insurance premiums per property pre and post 11 September are not available and the Department would incur a disproportionate cost establishing this information.


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