HC Deb 26 June 1995 vol 262 cc524-5W
Mr. McNamara

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list those parts of his Department or departmental agencies which were privatised without an in-house bid; if he will indicate the expertise which was absent in his Department or departmental agencies which prevented an in-house bid taking place; which future parts of his Department or departmental agencies he intends to privatise; and which of them do not have the necessary in-house expertise to mount an in-house bid. [29424]

Mr. Waldegrave

I refer the hon. Member to the replies given to my hon. Friends the Members for Darlington (Mr. Milburn) and for Barking (Ms Hodge) on 16 December 1994,Official Report, columns 867–68 and 8 June 1995, Official Report, columns 313–18 inclusive.

Market testing, strategic contracting out and efficiency review exercises either in process or yet to start cover information technology service provision from the information technology directorate; staff training; the management maintenance and operations of the fisheries research vessels at DFR Lowestoft; IT services—other than that provided by the ITD—HQ reprographic services; non-scientific services, CSL; national food survey; training services procured from ATB landbase; fisheries aerial surveillance; and the national diet and nutrition survey, with Department of Health. In addition, it is intended that some elements of the industry development press and industry relations and marketing directorate functions of the Meat and Livestock Commission will be market tested.

For the future it is not possible to predict in advance of recommendations following structural, strategic or management reviews which services or functions will be contracted out. Contracting out without an in-house bid can occur when my Department judges that the private sector is clearly better equipped to deliver a specific service, has a better understanding of market needs or has a capacity to invest in new technology. This has been true, for example, in some cases of information technology services provision. Where an activity may be relatively small and peripheral to my department's functions, a strategic decision to contract out could also be taken. Decisions over whether services are most effectively discharged in-house or contracted out are taken in light of one of my Department's stated aims-namely, to ensure the best use of internal resources in support of the Ministry's business.

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