HC Deb 08 November 1999 vol 337 c688
36. Mr. John Bercow (Buckingham)

What assessment he has made of the adequacy of the resources available to determine the effectiveness of market testing by Government Departments. [96159]

Mr. Robert Sheldon (Chairman of the Public Accounts Commission)

The commission has to ensure that the National Audit Office has sufficient resources to carry out its work on a range of issues across all Government Departments and agencies. I am satisfied that that is the case at present, including, where appropriate, examinations of market testing by Government Departments. The NAO has conducted numerous detailed studies of market tests carried out by Government Departments and agencies, including services tested by means of public-private partnerships and the private finance initiative.

Mr. Bercow

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for that answer. Has there been any recent comparative study of the individual performance of different Government Departments in respect of market testing? What criteria have informed that study or evaluation? Is he now satisfied that examples of expensive disservice and slovenliness have been rooted out in favour of good practice and maximum value for money for the British taxpayer?

Mr. Sheldon

The NAO carries out many studies and, as the hon. Gentleman knows, it is important that they cover the whole range of Government Departments. An essential element of the work is that comparisons are made and presented to the commission, which meets next month to consider those and other matters.