HC Deb 19 May 1981 vol 5 c147
12. Mr. Fox

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he is satisfied with the rate of progress in handing over the cleaning of Army establishments to the private sector and with the level of savings so far achieved.

Mr. Goodhart

Yes, Sir. The placing of cleaning work to contract is making a valuable contribution to our efforts to save money and manpower and furthers the Government's policy of transferring to the private sector those jobs which need not necessarily be performed by public servants.

Mr. Fox

Is the Minister aware that on the eight contracts awarded the savings are not 25 per cent. but 52 per cent.? With defence cuts under consideration, would not this be a fruitful area for speeding up the handover to the private sector? Does he agree that only eight out of 76 contracts awarded in 18 months is a dismal record?

Mr. Goodhart

In all, including the Army Department, decisions have been taken to change to contract cleaning at over 50 establishments, with potential savings in excess of £3 million a year and some 2,000 posts.

Mr. George

Will the Minister guarantee that cleaners who have been displaced receive proper compensation? Does he agree that in the supposed cost advantage of private contract cleaning a number of hidden costs are involved that may not have been taken into account, such as compensation and additional security measures?

Mr. Goodhart

An allowance for redundancy payments is taken into account. We have found that estimates for redundancies have been 50 per cent. higher than they proved to be in practice.

Mr. Arthur Davidson

Since contract cleaning workers are among the lowest paid, according to an ACAS report which the Minister will have no doubt seen, may I ask whether he is satisfied that savings have not been at the expense of single parents, who form the major part of that labour force?

Mr. Goodhart

Before a contract is awarded, the company and the wages that it pays are scrutinised by my Department.