The award of the contract for the management of the Child Support Agencys clerical cases was not a Ministerial decision; it was a decision of the Agency. However, Ministers were made aware as soon as the decision had been made.
The Criteria used for the tendering process (which was conducted in line with European and Government Procurement Rules) for the contract for the management of clerical cases, and the basis for the decision to award the contract to Vertex was:
The ability to deliver the overall solution
Bulk case processing experience
Supplier understanding of Clerical Cases Management Service
There were initially seven companies involved in the tender process for the management of clerical cases. By the final stage of the process the number of companies had been short-listed to three.
The decision to award the contract to Vertex was based on pre-determined and agreed criteria that reflected the quality of scheme required against best value for money.
It is not possible for me to quantify the commercial value of the contract to Vertex. The generic contract cost to the Department for Work and Pensions is in the region of £23 million for the life of the contract.
The Agency delivered comprehensive training to Vertex trainers over a 3-week period. The Vertex trainers then took this training to their own people who would be managing the clerical cases. Since then the Agency has provided approximately 100 people to Vertex to help consolidate this training and to assist in the early weeks of transition.
The Agency has rigorous procedures in place to prevent the mis-use of data in its possession, including the requirement for all employees to sign confidentiality agreements, and the random checking of system access by designated managers. The Department for Work and Pensions has over 20 detailed Information Technology (IT) Security and Data Protection policy documents which the Agency must comply with. These cover a diverse range of security matters, from Anti Virus Policy, Monitoring Official Systems Policy, the Social Security Administration Act 1992 and the Freedom of Information Act. Vertex staff are bound by the same rules and policies as the Agencys employees.
I hope this is helpful.
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what progress has been made in the last
three months in testing the recommendations in the Henshaw report for redesign of the Child Support Agency. 
Mr. Plaskitt [holding answer 16 October 2006]: In our response to Sir David Henshaw's report we set out the broad direction of reform of the child support system. This initiated an informal consultation period which ended on 18 September. We are currently undertaking an intensive programme of work to consider the way forward, including consideration of the responses to the consultation.
Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what estimate he has made of the impact on the value of pension funds of the post A-Day (a) changes in the way shares are valued after a company has declared a dividend and (b) requirement for shares to be valued by the quarter up method; 
(2) what estimate he has made of the total cost to pension funds administration of upgrading IT equipment to accommodate (a) the post A-Day requirement for shares to be valued by the quarter up method and (b) the changes to the treatment of ex-dividend shares. 
The post A-Day pension tax rules change neither the way shares are valued after a company has declared a dividend or the treatment of ex-dividend shares. They do require, under limited circumstances, for shares held by pension funds to be valued by the quarter up method.
A Regulatory Impact Assessment (Regulatory Impact Assessment for Simplifying the Taxation of PensionsUpdate) was published on 22 March 2006. This sets out the Governments assessment of the impact of pension simplification rules introduced from A-Day and the Government's plans for post-implementation evaluation. It is available at www.hmrc.gov.uk/ria/ria-pensions-simplification.pdf.
James Purnell: The Pension Protection Fund was established to protect members of defined benefit schemes and the defined benefit element of hybrid schemes by paying compensation if their employer becomes insolvent and the pension scheme is under funded to a certain level. In order to have sufficient funds to pay compensation, the PPF charge a compulsory annual levy on all eligible schemes and take in the remaining assets of schemes that enter the PPF. The PPF consulted on their proposals for levy calculation in 2005 and they were well received by industry.
The second annual report of the PPF will be laid in November outlining in detail the progress made towards the organisations goals. The PPF is currently issuing invoices for the first risk based levy of UK pension schemes. There are 150 schemes in the PPF Assessment period and in the region of 86,000 members.
Gillian Merron: Our priority is pressing for the inclusion of aviation in the EU Emission Trading Scheme from 2008 or as soon as possible. Good progress is being made, and the European Commission are committed to bring forward a legislative proposal by the end of this year.
Gillian Merron: Good progress has been made and, under our chairmanship last year, the European Union Environment Council agreed that emissions trading seems to be the best way forward, and called for a legislative proposal by the end of 2006 which was committed to by the European Commission.
Dr. Ladyman: We are exploring the potential for road pricing to address the very serious congestion problems that we face. We are encouraging local authorities to develop road pricing schemes to help us understand better how pricing works in practice.
Work that has been done over the last three years confirms that we should take a measured approach in introducing road pricing, and these pilots will help inform decisions about how to move to a national system of road pricing.
Dr. Ladyman: As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said earlier, the feasibility study of road pricing indicated that road pricing has the potential to cut congestion long term by nearly half with only 4 per cent. less traffic using the road.
Mr. Tom Harris: Officials at the Department for Transport have been working closely with the promoters of the phase 2 extensions to the Nottingham Express Transit to ascertain the scheme's value for money aspects. We hope to announce a decision in the near future.
Dr. Ladyman: Any decisions to implement road pricing in a city will be taken locally. Authorities in Greater Manchester and the West Midlands are working hard to develop options to tackle the serious congestion problems they face. Both are looking at the role road pricing might play in a congestion reduction strategy, but more work is needed before any decisions can be taken. This work is being supported by funding from the Department.
Gillian Merron: During its EU Presidency this Government gave priority to progressing a new European Council Regulation on the rights of disabled people travelling by air. This will apply with effect from July 2007. We are also considering research findings assessing the industry's compliance with our existing UK voluntary code of practice.
Dr. Ladyman: Through the Traffic Management Act, the Highways Agency has new powers to keep traffic flowing and improve journey reliability and manage congestion. This allows the newly appointed HA Traffic Officers to stop and direct traffic in live carriageways and support the police.
Dr. Ladyman: I have asked the Highways Agency to finalise the A14 Kettering Bypass Widening Options Study and submit recommendations on potential improvements early in 2007, so that I can make a decision on the way forward.
Gillian Merron: Local and central Government spending on bus support in England has increased from just over £1.64 billion in 2003-04 to £1.7 billion in 2004-05 and is estimated to have increased further to over £1.8 billion in 2005-06.
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much freight was transported by rail through the channel tunnel on average in each month of the last period for which figures are available; and
what estimate his Department has made of the levels of rail freight which will continue to use the channel tunnel after the Government withdraws its subsidies to English Welsh and Scottish Railways International on 1 December. 
The Department has made no estimate on the levels of rail freight that will continue to use the channel tunnel after 1 December 2006 when existing contractual arrangements come to an end: these estimates are a commercial matter for the UKs channel tunnel rail freight operator English Welsh and Scottish Railway (EWSI) and Eurotunnel.
Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what projections his Department has made of the likely effect on the environment from carbon emissions that may be created should freight transported by rail through the Channel Tunnel be transported by alternative means. 
Mr. Tom Harris: There are a number of assumptions that have to be made on the mode and likely route used for freight if rail freight services through the Channel Tunnel cease. We estimate that if the current level of channel tunnel railfreight is transported by road, then the additional carbon emission in Great Britain will be in the region of 2,000 tonnes per annum.
Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate his Department has made of the possible effect on the number of jobs in UK freight yards if subsidies for freight operating companies using the Channel Tunnel are withdrawn.