HC Deb 15 July 1993 vol 228 cc1100-1
6. Mr. Dowd

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his policy regarding payment for work carried out at the Bank of England by sub-contractors; and if he will make a statement.

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Michael Portillo)

Under the Bank of England charter of 1946, such management matters are for the court of directors of the Bank and not for the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I understand that the Bank maintains a policy of prompt payment against validated invoices for work carried out by its contractors.

Mr. Dowd

I thank the Chief Secretary for that reply and I also thank him on behalf of R. M. Simpson, a small heating contractor in my constituency, which has been waiting two years for the settlement of a £250,000 bill for work carried out at the Bank of England. The company eventually received a reply from the Chief Secretary once I raised the question in the House.

Is not it a disgrace that work done at the Bank of England cannot be regarded as secure and that the Bank does not ensure that the money is passed on to those working for contractors who are working for the Bank—those who actually do the work? The financial framework under which they execute their contracts needs a complete overhaul, especially for the sake of small businesses which are struggling in these difficult times.

Mr. Portillo

The hon. Gentleman is right to say that we have been in correspondence. Mr. Simpson carried out work for Taymech; in turn, Taymech worked for Bovis, and Bovis was doing some work for the Bank of England. There is a dispute about a claim for loss of expenses. The matter certainly does not rest with the Bank of England and is certainly not a matter for the Chancellor of the Exchequer. There is no valid invoice from Simpson to the Bank of England; nor could there be, because the contract rests not between Simpson and the Bank of England, but between Simpson and Taymech.

Mr. Jessel

As to work carried out in the Bank of England by contractors, has the Governor got a contract and is it in his contract that he must try to stifle comment in the House on the rate of interest?

Mr. Portillo

No. That is not one of the Governor's responsibilities. He plays an important part in the vital matter of controlling inflation and I pay tribute to his dedication in that matter.