HC Deb 28 November 1984 vol 68 cc921-2
11. Mr. David Atkinson

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to publish his consultation document on further steps on competitive tendering by local councils.

Mr. Kenneth Baker

I shall issue a consultation document within the next few weeks.

Mr. Atkinson

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the majority of services undertaken by local government in this country are being supplied by private enterprise in at least one industrial country, if not several, in the free world? Therefore, will my right hon. Friend undertake to survey, in his consultation paper, not what is now being attempted in this country by way of privatisation, but what has already succeeded elsewhere, most notably in the United States of America?

Mr. Baker

I give my hon. Friend that undertaking. I shall look at his suggestion. We have opened up a considerable number of activities in local government to competitive tendering. It has been beneficial, as is shown by the enormous savings that have already accrued.

Mr. Chope

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the proof of the pudding is in the eating? Wandsworth council has saved about £23 million as a result of competitive tendering and the London borough of Merton has saved about £6 million. Comparing the rate rises in Wandsworth and Lambeth over the last few years, it can be seen that in Lambeth the rates have gone up by 107 per cent. and in Wandsworth by only 6 per cent.

Mr. Baker

I pay tribute to the pioneering work of my hon. Friend, when he was in charge of Wandsworth council, in pressing ahead with privatisation. I remind the House that the Audit Commission, which is riot a Government body, produced a report showing specifically that all authorities which had privatised various services achieved indisputable savings through contracting out.