HC Deb 17 June 1968 vol 766 cc684-5
10. Mr. Allason

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works what estimate he has made of the number of contractors who engaged in a public contract after 4th May, 1966, and before the introduction of supplementary condition No. 62 in CC/Works/1 in October, 1967, and Clause 31 in the Royal Institute of British Architects form of contract of November, 1967, and whose contracts will continue after September, 1968.

Mr. Mellish

None, Sir.

I have received representations from the industry for some relief on contracts which do not include a price variation clause covering changes in Selective Employment Tax rates and which are not due for completion until after the introduction of the increased rates next September. I am not yet in a position to make a statement.

Mr. Allason

Is the Minister satisfied that there is an injustice here which should be righted? Does he recall that in 1966 90 per cent. of the loss was permitted to be recovered by the Government? Will he ask the Minister of Housing and Local Government to issue a circular on the lines of his Circular 49/66?

Mr. Mellish

I know that there is an anomaly. The hon. Gentleman will know that I am already in consultation with my right hon. Friends who are associated with the construction industry. I want to see justice done. I am doing my best to see if we can get an agreed formula by which it shall be done. Only a minority of contracts is involved. I hope that we are not far away from making a statement. I have discussed this matter with the industry.

Mr. Chichester-Clark

Since by supplementary condition No. 62 the Government accepted the principle of fluctuation, is not there an even stronger case now for ex gratia payments than there was in 1966?

Mr. Mellish

This problem affects only a minority of contracts—those tendered for after 3rd May, 1966, and placed before the new conditions were introduced in December, 1967. Those contracts form a special case and we are trying to arrive at the best way in which it shall be done.

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