§ Mr. Byers
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on what occasions in the last 10 years he or a Minister in his Department has given a direction to civil servants to award a contract against the advice of the civil service; what was the subject matter of the contract and its value; and when it was awarded.
§ Sir John Wheeler
[holding answer, 8 July 1994]: The information requested could not be obtained by the Northern Ireland Office in the time available, except at disproportionate cost. However, within the Northern Ireland Departments, the Minister responsible for the Department of Health and Social Services, on one occasion, directed that a contract be awarded to a firm other than that recommended by his officials. This contract, for providing catering facilities, was awarded on 22 November 1990 and was valued at £265,548.