§ Mr. Home Robertson
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on his decision to commission Coopers and Lybrand to handle the establishment of Scottish Homes, including the terms of reference of his agreement with that firm, the fee to be paid and the reason why he has decided not to have the work done by civil servants; and what relevant experience Coopers and Lybrand has in the provision and management of rented housing to meet social needs in Scotland or elsewhere.
§ Lord James Douglas-Hamilton
The hon. Member will recall that I informed the First Scottish Standing Committee on 4 February, during its consideration of the Housing (Scotland) Bill, that we were likely to commission consultants to assist Scottish Homes to produce proposals in relation to its structure below board level. In pursuit of that intention, eight firms of consultants were invited in May to produce proposals in relation to the task of advising the board and chief executive of Scottish Homes on possible options for the organisational structure; and on an implementation and development plan in relation to the action necessary to enable Scottish Homes to establish itself as fully operational. Coopers and Lybrand was selected to carry out the task after thorough consideration of the proposals submitted by consultants, which involved the general manager of the Scottish Special Housing Association and the director of the Housing Corporation in Scotland as well as officials of the Scottish Office. It has been asked to complete the work by 1 September 1988.
The use of consultants for work of this type by Government Departments is not uncommon and recognises their specialist knowledge in relation to large-scale organisational and project management tasks, which is not widely available within the Civil Service. Coopers and Lybrand has a wide range of relevant experience including work for the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, the Scottish Special Housing Association and a number of local authorities in Scotland and elsewhere. It will work in close consultation with the Scottish Development Department, the Housing Corporation in Scotland and the Scottish Special Housing Association; and with the chairman-designate and chief executive designate of Scottish Homes once they have been appointed.
The estimated cost of the work is a matter of commercial confidence, which it would be inappropriate to disclose.