HC Deb 04 December 1995 vol 268 cc15-6W
Mr. Matthew Banks

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has for the future of the office of Her Majesty's Paymaster General. [4460]

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory

In accordance with its framework document, a full prior options review of the office of Her Majesty's Paymaster General will now be conducted, covering all its activities. The terms of reference for the review will be as follows:

To carry out a full Prior Options Review of the Office of Her Majesty's Paymaster General (PAYMASTER), consulting interested parties. To consider the need for the functions of the Agency and for the Government's retaining responsibility for them; whether any need to remain in the Civil Service and if so, to recommend suitable arrangements and a mechanism for transferring the rest to the private sector.

Since the office of Her Majesty's Paymaster General became a next steps agency nearly three years ago, it has made significant improvements to its efficiency, competitiveness and quality of service. It has won substantial business in competition with public and private sector competitors. I believe that there is a prima facie case now for moving the work of the agency into the private sector, subject to the review revealing no obstacles to this. Privatisation could offer new opportunities for the agency, its staff and—most important—its customers. The review will, therefore, focus on feasible options for moving the agency into the private sector.

Contributions from interested parties are invited and should be addressed to:

  • The Treasury Accountant
  • HM Treasury
  • 19 Allington Street
  • London
  • SW1E 5EB

They should be received before 26 February 1996. The results of the review will be announced in due course.