HC Deb 19 June 1997 vol 296 cc267-8W
Mr. Jim Marshall

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what decision he has reached on the future of the market testing programme within his Department . [4978]

Mr. Spellar

The Government support market testing as one of several means at their disposal to secure better value for money in the provision of public services. There is, however, no dogmatic preference for private over public provision or vice versa, or for market testing where it is not appropriate. On this basis we have reviewed the Department's market testing programme and have set out our conclusions in a policy statement on getting the best value from defence resources. This is being widely distributed within the Department, to the Trade Unions and other staff representatives and to industry associations. I am placing a copy of the statement in the Library of the House.

The statement emphasises the imperative for continuous improvements in efficiency; pays tribute to the huge contribution made by the Department's Service and Civil Service personnel working together; welcomes private sector involvement where this is cost-effective; and enjoins managers throughout the Department to pursue best value from defence resources in a manner which is rigorous, undoctrinaire, open minded and scrupulously fair.

Future projects will be judged against the policy statement at their key stages. We expect to announce the outcome in relation to several ongoing projects shortly.