§ Mrs. Gorman
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on how local authorities must draw up contracts for competitive tendering of the running of sports facilities so that the private sector has a fair chance to compete; and what powers he has to ensure that fair competition is encouraged with regard to the kinds of tasks set out in the tender documents.
§ Mr. Key
Under the Local Government Act 1988 local authorities are required to avoid anti-competitive behaviour in carrying out tendering for work subject to the Act. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has sanction powers which he may use if he considers that an authority has failed to comply with the statutory requirements, including the requirement to avoid anti-competitive behaviour. In March 1991, we issued a circular (1/91) giving guidance on factors that the Secretary of State would consider in reaching a view on whether local authorities had acted anti-competitively. We 391W are seeking powers in the Local Government Bill to strengthen our ability to prescribe what is, or is not, to be regarded as anti-competitive behaviour. We have just issued a consultation document "Competing for Quality—Competition in the Provision of Local Services" setting out our proposals for the use of those proposed powers.