HC Deb 15 February 1995 vol 254 cc998-9
21. Mr. Fishburn

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment he has made of prospects for the development of compulsory competitive tendering on housing management.

Mr. Robert B. Jones

We have put in place the legislative framework extending compulsory competitive tendering to housing management. The first contracts are due to be in operation from April 1996. I am pleased to say that local authorities are making good progress with their preparations.

Mr. Fishburn

As competitive tendering always produces cheaper, more efficient and more humane management of the public housing stock, can my hon. Friend tell me why so many people on the Opposition Benches remain opposed to it?

Mr. Jones

I think that they approach the matter with political dogma rather than adopting a flexible approach such as that taken by the Government. No local authority in history has done everything by direct labour. No local authority in history has done everything by private contractor. The proper thing is to draw a boundary—not on the basis of political whim and dogma—and to use a process of competitive tendering against a specification, invite tenders, judge their quality and award the contract.

Mr. Skinner

Now that it is known that more than £50 billion is spent by the quangos that have been set up by the Tories, what steps have the Government taken to ensure that quangos use compulsory competitive tendering?

Mr. Jones

Non-departmental public bodies are encouraged to go through a process of tendering as much as any other body. Competitive tendering has brought a great deal of benefit, for example, in the health service. It has been possible to feed those benefits through into patient care.