§ Mr. John Marshall
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the response of the council of the London borough of Barnet to the notice served on it on 21 November 1996 in respect of its decision to assign refuse collection work to its direct service organisation. 
§ Sir Paul Beresford
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has considered the response made by the authority on 18 December. He has today given a direction to the authority because it still appears to him that the authority acted in an anti-competitive manner in assigning work to its direct service organisation. He took this view because of the way in which the authority had reached its decision to assign the work. The effect of the direction is that the authority must retender the work immediately and seek consent if it wishes to continue to carry out the work in-house.