HC Deb 21 February 1983 vol 37 cc336-7W
Mr. Robert Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to his reply to the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North on 15 February, Official Report, c. 101, how many of the contracts awarded to (a) Sir Alexander Gibb and Partners, (b) R. Travers Morgan and Partners and (c) Ove Arup and Partners were awarded by competitive tender.

Mr. David Howell

As I said in reply to the right hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness (Mr. Booth) on 16 February, for highway work consultants are usually appointed from a short list of firms, selected for their expertise, quality of work and general suitability rather than through formal competitive tendering. That was the process whereby the Department awarded nine of the 10 contracts to which my reply of 15 February referred. (For five of them, which were for schemes transferred from the Warwickshire road construction sub-unit, there were additional criteria and proposals from 14 firms were considered.) The remaining contract was for a scheme which had been suspended in 1980; as one firm had undertaken substantial work on it before that, no other firm was considered.—[Vol. 37, c.173.]

Mr. Alan Williams

asked the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to his answer of 16 February, Official Report, c. 278, what are the precedents for the employment of consultants by such a committee when partners in the consulting firm concerned were members of that committee; what were the fees involved in each case; in which cases the contracts were placed without competitive tendering; what time was saved by not seeking competitive tenders; and if he will set out in the Official Report the wording on page five, referred by him in c. 277, which showed that the procedures were strictly followed in the case of the Serpell committee.

Mr. David Howell

The urban motorways committee set up in 1969 included as members of the committee Sir Hugh Wilson and Mr. Alfred Goldstein, and also commissioned work from Hugh Wilson and Lewis Womersley and from R. Travers Morgan and Partners. The Royal Commission on the Press, set up in 1974, included as a member Mr. Chorley of Coopers and Lybrand, and commissioned work from that firm. Since both these committees were the responsibility of previous Administrations I am not able to give the other details requested by the hon. Member. Following is the relevant extract from the code of practice for the use of management consultants.Although an approach to a short list of three firms should be the norm, there may be occasions when an approach to a single firm may suffice; for instance where an assignment is in the nature of an extension of one completed recently and satisfactorily, or where there is a firm with recent experience in a government department of work similar to that proposed and calling for the deployment of qualities or expertise not widely available".