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13 Jan 2004 : Column 681W—continued

Supreme Court

28. Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs what representations he has received on the proposal for the creation of a supreme court. [147125]

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Mr. Leslie: I have received a range of representations on the new Supreme Court in response to the consultation paper issued last July. Details of responses received will be published shortly.

House of Lords

29. Mr. Luff: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs whether he plans to have further consultation on his proposals for reform of the House of Lords. [147126]

Mr. Leslie: The public consultation on proposals for reform of the House of Lords ended on 12 December, and the responses are being considered. The Government does not intend to repeat this consultation. Beyond this Bill, we have made clear that there is more work to be done.

32. Kevin Brennan: To ask the Parliamentary under Secretary of State if he will make a statement on his plans for further reform of the House of Lords. [147129]

Mr. Leslie: The Government intends to introduce legislation to remove the remaining hereditary peers and place the Appointments Commission on a statutory footing as soon as Parliamentary time allows. The Government has repeatedly stated that this Bill does not mark the end of the road for House of Lords reform.

Court of Protection

30. Mr. Kidney: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs what recent representations he has received about the efficiency of the Court of Protection. [147127]

Mr. Lammy: No representations have been received on the court of Protection, but 26 have been made to my noble Friend Lord Filkin on the Public Guardianship Office, which is the administrative arm of the Court, since he took over ministerial responsibility for it last summer.


31. David Taylor: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs what initiatives are planned to improve the oversight of supervision of solicitors; and if he will make a statement. [147128]

Mr. Lammy: We expect to appoint a Legal Services Complaints Commissioner with powers to oversee the Law Society's complaints handling in the very near future. The powers of the LSCC can include: setting targets for the handling of complaints; making recommendations about complaints handling; requiring a failing body to submit a plan for complaints handling and levying fines if the body fails to submit a plan or comply with the agreed plan to improve complaints handling.

Witnesses and Victims (Court Evidence)

33. Mrs. Betty Williams: To ask the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs, what measures are being taken to encourage witnesses and victims to come forward to give evidence in court. [147130]

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Mr. Leslie: Last July, the Government published a National Strategy setting out the steps we are taking to deliver improved services to victims and witnesses in the Criminal Justice System.

At its heart is the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Bill, introduced last November and containing a number of measures aimed at encouraging more witnesses to come to court and give evidence.


Mr. Wilkinson: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs if the Lord Chancellor will answer the letter to him from the hon. Member for Ruislip-Northwood dated 28 November 2003, regarding the case of his constituent, Mr. J. Lawrence. [146952]

Mr. Leslie: My Department is currently considering the matters raised by the hon. Member in his letter of 28 November 2003. The Secretary of State and Lord Chancellor will write to the hon. Member as soon as possible.

IT Contracts

Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs if he will list information technology contracts in his Department with a value of above £20 million in each of the last 10 years; what the inception date for each system was; when it became fully functional; when it became fully debugged; and what the cost of over-runs has been. [146198]

Mr. Leslie: The information for my Department is as follows:

LOCCS (various court-based IT systems):

The EDS (LOGCS) contract was awarded to EDS in September 1996, to provide IT systems to Crown and county courts. The lifetime cost of the contract is assessed at £210 million.

The initial rollout of equipment to courts was completed in August 2001. The contract was fully functional from award. The contract includes provisions to test software prior to release, and to fix software 'bugs' which are attributable to supplier software.

The LOCCS rollout was completed to time, and subsequent major work programmes have been delivered to time.

A major provision of new IT equipment to the Crown Court (and those county courts co-located with crown court buildings) under the LOCCS contract was agreed in 2003. This is part of the Government's commitment to modernising the Criminal Justice System. This programme of change had replaced the equipment and significantly enhanced the IT functionality available at 31 Crown and County Court centres by the end of 2003 and is on schedule to be completed in all of the 109 sites within scope by 2006. An extension to this rollout of a further 59 stand alone county courts is being planned. These additional sites will also be completed in 2006.

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ARAMIS (Resource Accounting and Management Information System):

This is a PFI contract for the provision of accounting, financial, HR/payroll and management information services. It was awarded in December 1997 and runs until January 2007. Its current anticipated life-time cost is £207.7 million, which includes enhancements to the service during 2003.

Most services have IT elements and are delivered across an IT infrastructure provided through the contract. However, the IT system elements of the contract are not separated out from the main business functions. All the services are being provided within the lifetime of the contract, and major work programmes have been delivered to time. Debugging of the IT system elements is a process which continues through the lifetime of the contract.

Libra (magistrates' courts IT systems):

The original contract with Fujitsu Systems for Libra included provision for infrastructure and Office Automation, a bespoke case management software application and systems integration.

This contract with Fujitsu Services for the delivery of Libra has been varied twice since it was awarded in December 1998. This has resulted in changes to the baseline making it inappropriate to compare spend to date across an original and two variants of the contract. The actual spend against the original contract can be summarised as follows:

Libra is now being sourced through three separate contracts, one to provide the underlying infrastructure and Office Automation Services, one to supply a new case management application and the third to deploy that application and integrate all systems. These include, where necessary, provisions to test the software and to fix any "bugs" which are attributable to supplier software prior to release.

The contract signed with Fujitsu Services in July 2002 included the provision of Libra infrastructure and Office Automation only. The roll-out of these was successfully completed in September 2003.

A further contract was signed with STL in January 2003 for £37 million to provide a case management software application. The first release of this application is due in November 2004 with two further enhancements to be completed before November 2005. STL will continue to provide support and enhancement services through to 2008.

A contract was also signed with Accenture in October 2003 for £38 million to deploy the new application to the Magistrates' courts (planned completion by the end of 2005) and to provide on-going systems integration services through to 2008.

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Ministerial Meetings

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs on how many occasions the Secretary of State met the Secretary of State for Home Affairs to discuss (a) asylum seekers and (b) reform of the criminal justice system in the last 12 months. [146673]

Mr. Lammy: In the last 12 months the Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs has met the Secretary of State for Home Affairs to discuss asylum seekers on eight separate occasions and on 15 separate occasions to discuss reform of the criminal justice system. They will also have discussed these issues in the context of other meetings.

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