§ Mr. Austin Mitchell
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many outside accountancy firms are employed by his Department; whether such employment is subject to any guidelines; and whether he takes steps before employing an accountancy firm to discover whether that firm has been censured by Department of Trade and Industry inspectors in their inquiries under the Companies Act.
§ Mrs. Gillian Shephard
Six outside accountancy firms have been employed by the Department since April 1989 on work which is normally undertaken by their management consultancy divisions. Employment is subject to central guidance and guidelines prepared by the Department. The integrity and status of firms is taken fully into account during the competitive selection process.