§ Mr. Milburn
To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list the actions his Department has taken on each of the recommendations contained in the Cabinet Office report "The Government's Use of External Consultants". 
Mr. John M. Taylor
[holding answer 13 January 1997]: My Department has implemented 28 of the 34 recommendations in the Cabinet Office report, "The Government's Use of External Consultants".
Recommendations 14 and 15 were rejected on the grounds that business opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises would be reduced.
It was not possible to implement recommendation 10, 21 and 34 due to a decision to replace the proposed national consultancy database with regional lists serving the needs of local industry.
Action on recommendation 19 was for the Treasury.
I have asked the chief executives of the Patent Office and the Radiocommunications Agency to reply separately to the question, as they have produced independent action plans.
Letter from Jim Norton to Mr. Alan Milburn, dated 14 January 1997:200WI am writing to you in response to your Parliamentary Question to the President of the Board of Trade about actions taken on the recommendations contained in the Cabinet Office report. The Government's Use of External Consultants. This letter relates to the action taken by the Radiocommunications Agency.The Agency has implemented most of the recommendations of this report (where they were not already part of RA policy) in line with its policy of shadowing DTI policy on procurement, including the use of consultants. Two recommendations were rejected, numbers 14 and 15, which related to limiting the numbers of firms invited to tender, on the grounds that these would reduce effective competition, possibly excluding small and medium enterprises, and introducing excessive bureaucratic procedures. In addition a number of the action points stemming from the recommendations were for Treasury or DTI to take forward.
Letter from P. R. S. Hartnack to Mr. Alan Milburn, dated 14 January 1997:I am replying for the Patent Office to your Parliamentary Question to the President of the Board of Trade about the Cabinet Office's recommendations on the use of consultants.The Patent Office reconsidered its approach to the use of external consultants in response to the Cabinet Office report. It found that in practice it already followed the recommendations either through its close observation of the guidance in the Department of Trade and Industry Procurement Manual or through the mechanisms it had in place for the preparation of its Corporate Plan and Estimates. To reinforce the message of the Report the main recommendations were incorporated in a statement of the Patent Office's strategic approach to the use of external consultants which was circulated to senior managers across the Office. The Patent Office has its own Procurement Section which is staffed by trained officers and which oversees and advises on all procurement activities including the use of external consultants.