HC Deb 27 March 1984 vol 57 cc137-8
Q2. Mr. David Atkinson

asked the Prime Minister if she is satisfied with the progress being made by local authorities to privatise services.

The Prime Minister

No. I am still dissatisfied with the progress that local authorities are making in seeking better value for money by putting their services to the test of competition. We are continuing to study what measures can be taken to speed up the process.

Mr. Atkinson

I welcome that reply from my right hon. Friend. Does she agree that there is now ample evidence from those Conservative councils that have had the guts and the vision to put out their services to private enterprise that that is the most positive way of capping rates? Will my right hon. Friend consider introducing legislation that will oblige all local authorities to compare existing costs for those services with the costs if they are tendered to the private sector?

The Prime Minister

I agree with my hon. Friend that there are great opportunities for reducing expenditure by submitting contracts to private competition. So far, progress has been very disappointing. Only 23 contracts have been let, but they result in a saving of £7 million annually. I hope that we can be much more successful in persuading local authorities to go out to private competition, but I should be reluctant to commit us to legislation, because that would be a very technical measure to put through the House.

Miss Maynard

Is the Prime Minister aware that there is great anxiety that the Territorial Army will be increased to 86,000—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The question concerns privatisation.

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