HC Deb 21 January 1994 vol 235 cc870-1W
Mr. Willetts

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to publish consultation drafts of the statutory instruments which will implement the compulsory competitive tendering of housing management for consultation.

Sir George Young

On 26 November, I announced—Official Report, columns 264–65—how the Department proposed to proceed with the implementation of compulsory competitive tendering of housing management. My announcement followed detailed consultation with local authorities and their representatives. I am today publishing drafts of the orders and regulations which will put these proposals into effect.

I am also publishing today draft guidance for local authorities designed to avoid anti-competitive behaviour. The guidance seeks to ensure that authorities can continue to deliver comprehensive and estate-based housing services and at the same time ensure that there is free and fair competition for their delivery. The wide-ranging guidance is designed to balance the needs of housing authorities and contractors, and to safeguard the interests of tenants.

Copies of all these documents are being sent to each local housing authority in England. Local authorities and others have until 4 March to let the Department have their views on these documents. Copies are also being placed in the Library.

Mr. Whittingdale

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, what advice he proposes to give local authorities on the handling of issues related to the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981 in relation to compulsory competitive tendering.

Mr. Baldry

Today my Department has written to all local authority chief executives enclosing an issues paper on the handling of TUPE issues in relation to compulsory competitive tendering. This follows consultation with representatives of the local authority associations and industries engaged in CCT contracting.

The paper covers, among other matters, the approach which authorities should adopt in relation to: requests for indemnities; the provision of information to contractors about workforce matters; delay to the CCT timetable; the treatment of tenders where there is a disagreement on the applicability of TUPE; and the evaluation of tenders.

The paper also indicated that Department of the Environment circular 10/93 will be amended to provide that local authorities may give a preliminary view of the likelihood of T'UPE applying to a contract.

The paper deals with matters of the handling of TUPE-related issues. As regards the substantive issue of whether or not TUPE applies to a particular contract, the position remains that this depends on the detailed facts of each case, as set out in the guidance which my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster issued on 11 March last year.

I have today placed a copy of the letter to chief executives and the paper in the Library.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales has decided to issue the paper to local authorities in Wales. The Welsh Office has today written to all local authority chief executives in Wales enclosing the paper and indicating that Welsh Office circular 40/93 will be amended in line with DOE circular 10/93.

The Government's view on pension rights in relation to TUPE and market testing of services is set out in "The Government's Guide to Market Testing" published by the Office of Public Services and Science efficiency unit in July 1993, paragraph 5.18. In my discussions, a number of industry organisations have commented on the matter of pensions rights in relation to CCT. I am considering these comments and will issue further advice on this matter as appropriate.