§ 23. Mr. W. Hamilton
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland, what steps are taken to ensure that there is genuine competition in the tendering for publicly-financed contracts.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Gordon Campbell)
The field covered by publicly-financed contracts including those which involve Exchequer grants is very wide indeed, but contracts for which my right hon. Friend is directly responsible are placed, with a very few exceptions, in competition by open or selective tendering.
§ Mr. Hamilton
How does the hon. Gentleman explain what happened when oil companies tendered for the heating of the Edinburgh hospitals and four of them quoted the same price to the last 100th of a 1d.—8.12d. per gallon? Does not that suggest to the Minister that there was a price-fixing arrangement between the companies? If he is so convinced, will he refer the matter to the Restrictive Practices Court?
§ Mr. Campbell
My right hon. Friend does not draw that conclusion. The oil companies were asked by the hospital board to confirm that the board was right to use the present bulk contract rate for planning purposes. Four of these companies confirmed the figure of the hospital board and two quoted a slightly lower round figure.
§ Mr. Hamilton
Can the hon. Gentleman say whether this has been a com 1292 mon practice in this kind of contract in other parts of Scotland, in addition to the Edinbugh hospitals?