HC Deb 09 February 1995 vol 254 cc337-9W
Mr. Malcolm Bruce

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what are his latest estimates of the expenditure on all external consultants, including management consultants, for each year since 1987, in 1994 prices, for his Department and its agencies; and what are the quantified annual cost savings which such expenditure has resulted in.

Mr. John M. Taylor

Information is not available for the full period covered by the question. According to the best information available, our total expenditure on external consultants in 1992–93 was £3.531 million at 1993–94 prices.

Consultants are used in a variety of activities designed to produce different benefits. Much of their work is linked to the requirements of Government programmes such as training and designing IT systems, rather than simply cost-cutting exercises. In addition, consultants are often only one of a number of contributory elements in projects that may produce savings. In these circumstances, it is not possible to quantify the annual savings which have resulted from the use of consultants.

The Lord Chancellor is responsible for three agencies: Her Majesty's Land Registry, the Public Record Office and the Public Trust Office. As the question concerns specific operational matters on which the chief executives of the three agencies are best placed to provide answers, I have accordingly asked the chief executives to reply direct.

Letter from Julia C. Lomas to Mr. Malcolm Bruce, dated 7 February 1995: The Parliamentary Secretary, of the Lord Chancellor's Department has asked me to reply to you as part of the Lord Chancellor's Department's response to your parliamentary question listed on 6 February 1995, regarding expenditure on external consultants. The Public Trust Office's (PTO) expenditure since 1987 is as follows:

Year Consultants Actual spend Spend in 1994 prices
1992–93 Ernst and Young 26,508.00 27,865.49
P-E International 6,110.00 6,422.90
Total 32,618.00 34,288.39
1993–94 Ernst and Young 1,917.60 1,955.95
P-E International 8,460.00 8,629.20
Total 10,377.60 10,585.15
1994–95 Price Waterhouse 65,742.55 65,742.55
Total 65,742.55 65,742.55

The Price Waterhouse report is still under discussion and decision are expected in the next month. The P-E International work resulted in savings of £91 kpa. The Ernst Young project did not lead to quantifiable reduction in cost. However it enabled the PTO to establish a corporate planning process which has helped us to plan for and achieve Executive Agency status without any additional cost in overall terms.

Letter from John Manthorpe to Mr. Malcolm Bruce, dated 8 February 1995: PARLIAMENTARY QUESTION—EXPENDITURE ON CONSULTANTS IN IIM LAND REGISTRY I have been asked by the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, to reply to your recent question concerning expenditure on all external consultants, including management consultants, since 1987. I can provide the following information:

Year Actual Cost£ Cost 1994 prices £
1987–88 17,956 25,719
1988–89 37,149 49,872
1989–90 42,900 53,833
1990–91 48,062 55,836
1991–92 98,539 107,710
1992–93 54,224 57,001
1993–94 157,022 160,162

HM Land Registry has not used consultancy services extensively (the actual cost in 1993–94, for instance, represented only 0.08% of its total expenditure) and its main engagements are for specialist tuition and information Systems business services—the latter being provided throughout the period by the Government Centre for Information Systems (CCTA), particularly providing advice and services on procurement. Consequently, it has not been possible to quantify annual cost savings. Consultants' services have made a contribution to the overall cost savings achieved by the Registry which, for example, in 1993–94, amounted to a 2.97% reduction in unit costs in real terms over the previous year, equivalent to an overall saving of £5.9 million.

I do hope that this answers the points raised with the Parliamentary Secretary but please contact me if I can be of any further assistance.

Letter from Sarah Tyacke to Mr. Malcolm Bruce, dated 8 February 1995: PARLIAMENTARY QUESTION: EXPENDITURE ON EXTERNAL CONSULTANTS I have been asked by the Lord Chancellor's Parliamentary Secretary to reply to your question about expenditure on external consultants since 1987, and the quantified annual cost savings which have resulted from this expenditure. 1. The Public Record Office's annual expenditure on consultants (in 1994 prices) was:

  • 1986–87: nil
  • 1987–88: nil
  • 1988–89: £80,276
  • 1989–90: £46,745
  • 1990–91: £243,000
  • 1991–92: £349,111
  • 1992–93: £971,568
  • 1993–94: £674,305
2. The above includes £87,954 spent over 1992–93 and 1993–94 on consultancy to support the market testing programme, which has resulted in an annualised net saving of £291,000 per annum. 3. Other consultancies have been to carry out necessary specialised work beyond this department's normal scope, rather than to realise direct cost savings. They have related primarily to the construction of a new building, also to the installation of computer systems and training.