HC Deb 14 May 1957 vol 570 cc202-3
25. Sir A. Bossom

asked the Minister of Works if he will give consideration to eliminating as far as possible from Government building contracts items for which a prime cost sum is included and for which, in consequence, there is no competition.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works (Mr. Harmar Nicholls)

The advantage of avoiding prime cost items as much as possible is well understood by Government Departments engaged in building, and they try to do so.

Where prime cost items cannot be avoided, it is the normal practice of Government Departments to obtain competitive tenders for these items wherever more than one firm is in a position to undertake work of the required standard.

Sir A. Bossom

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that where these sums are included there is no competition at all, and that in some cases as much as 70 per cent. of a contract is given out in this way? Will he look into this situation to see that we get the best prices we can?

Mr. Nicholls

My hon. Friend can rest assured that we have a lot of sympathy with the points in his Question and shall continue wherever possible to adopt the practice that I have described.