§ Mr. Quentin Davies
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he intends to issue guidance to local authorities on the avoidance of anti-competitive conduct when subjecting work to the requirements of compulsory competitive tendering.
§ Mr. Baldry
The Government have today issued guidance under section 9 of the Local Government Act 1992, and pursuant to the Local Government (Direct Service Organisations) (Competition) Regulations 1993 (SI No. 848).
CCT has produced many benefits for local taxpayers since its introduction, not only through financial savings but in improved efficiency and better standards of service. These benefits can be gained only through fair competition, and experience over recent years has shown that the statutory framework for CCT needed to be strengthened and clarified to ensure that all parties compete on a level playing field.
Local authorities are in the unusual position of being both client and potential contractor. In letting contracts, they must ensure that they are absolutely even-handed. It is not the Government's intention to discriminate against an authority's in-house work force, or to presume in favour of the private contractor. I believe the guidance strikes the right balance and will ensure that both local authority in-house teams and the private sector can tender effectively. This can only be in the best interests of the local taxpayer.
Local authorities and other bodies have made many helpful and constructive comments during consultation on these provisions, and I am grateful for their contribution.