§ Mr. Penhaligon
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will give details of the opportunities presented to the laundry workers employed in west Cornwall by the Cornwall district health authority to make an in-house tender for the laundry contract recently placed in the private sector.
§ Mr. Kenneth Clarke
The decision to award the contract for laundry services in west Cornwall to the firm which submitted the lowest tender was based upon the results of an investment appraisal which showed this to be far cheaper than the proposed in-house option of building a new laundry. The appraisal was commissioned in 1980 and completed early in 1983, so that it pre-dated the issue of the circular providing for in-house tenders in competitive tendering situations. It was widely known that the appraisal was taking place and during that period it was open to staff interests to put forward suggestions to improve the cost-effectiveness of the in-house service.
I am quite satisfied that all parties were treated fairly and that the correct decision was taken in the interests of the NHS and its patients in Cornwall. It would have been wasteful and incompetent to scrap the results of such a long and careful appraisal and start again because a circular from our Department was proposing a different procedure for future cases.