§ 22. Mr. David Heath (Somerton and Frome)
How many information technology projects currently being implemented, for which his Department is responsible, are behind schedule. 
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Mike O'Brien)
The hon. Gentleman has raised an enormously important issue. 558 Eleven of the 17 major projects currently under way are expected to complete, or did complete, later than the date originally estimated. Timetables and milestones are kept continually under review. Currently, following updated reviews, all Home Office information technology projects are on target.
§ Mr. Heath
I thank the Minister for his answer, but the situation is a bit of a shambles, and it is costing the country a lot of money. In a week during when we shall discuss the Freedom of Information Bill, would it not be appropriate for the Minister to place in the Library the terms of the contracts and the penalties payable by the IT companies, so that we can all see what the Government are doing on our behalf?
§ Mr. O'Brien
We have said that we will seek to be as open as possible in regard to the contracts that have already been signed. As the hon. Gentleman will appreciate, they were signed on the basis of certain conditions and criteria, and obviously we shall be bound by the contracts that currently exist; but as we have said, our policy will be to be as open as we can in making available the contents of future contracts.
Many private sector projects have experienced some difficulties. The public sector deals with matters on a larger scale; as a result, the opportunities for problems to arise are inevitably greater.