HC Deb 20 January 1983 vol 35 cc211-2W
Mr. Robert Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will publish in the Official Report, in relation to the Serpell committee report (a) the total cost of preparing and publishing the report, (b) the cost of any individual studies prepared by consultants and (c) the cost of preparing and publishing the minority report.

Mr. David Howell

Total costs to date of the review, including an assessment of the staff costs of the secretariat, amount to about £610,000. Final accounts for the consultancy work done for the committee have not yet been received. Of the total costs to date, nearly £370,000 has been paid to R. Travers Morgan and Partners, and a little over £182,000 to Peat Marwick Mitchell and Company. Both payments include disbursements and VAT. Since Mr. Goldstein give his services as a member of the committee free of charge, my Department will be making no payment for the preparation of the minority report, but has agreed to meet reasonable secretarial and production costs. Publication of the reports has been undertaken by Her Majesty Stationery Office, and the costs are covered by the document price.

Company and location Initial grant agreed Date of approval Purpose of grant

Mr. Booth

asked the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what criteria were used to determine which firms were appointed as consultants to the Serpell inquiry;

(2) what rules govern the commissioning of work by committees of inquiry set up by Her Majesty's Government from outside consultants in cases where members of such committees have a personal financial interest in such consultants; what requirements of declaration are made; and whether these arrangements applied to the Serpell inquiry into the finances of British Rail;

(3) which firms were appointed as consultants to the Serpell inquiry; for what purpose each firm was commissioned; and what fees were paid to each firm.

Mr. Christopher Price

asked the Secretary of State for Transport on what basis consultants were selected for (a) the financial and (b) the operational studies for the Serpell committee; which firms were finally selected for each of the studies; what was the cost of each set of studies; what financial interest any members of the committee had in the firms selected; what rules are laid down concerning the declaration of financial interests in such circumstances; and whether these rules were complied with in these cases.

Mr. David Howell

The committee needed professional expertise and extensive access to specialised consultancy services. I concluded, before establishing the committee, that the best and most cost-effective arrangements would be to make Mr. Goldstein and Mr. Butler, both leading members of their professions, members of the committee and to engage the firms of which they are senior partners, R. Travers Morgan and Partners—RTM—and Peat Marwick Mitchell and Company—PMM—respectively, to provide such consultancy services as were required. Their financial interests were therefore known from the outset. The appointment of the consultants by my Department followed the proper procedures and was in conformity with the rules for such appointments. Final accounts for consultancy work have not yet been received. Payments to date amount to nearly £370,000 to RTM and just over £182,000 to PMM. Both payments include disbursements and VAT. The terms of reference of the studies are given in the committee report.