HC Deb 17 March 1997 vol 292 cc453-6W
Mr. Raynsford

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what indications have been given to the

The taking of emergency measures to protect lives and property is the responsibility of the local authority emergency services and therefore HSE has only limited information on the emergency measures taken to protect lives and property.

in-house bid team seeking to acquire the Building Research Establishment about the level of Government support for the Building Research Establishment in the immediate future and the type of work which would be covered by Government contracts. [20636]

Mr. Robert B. Jones

The Information memorandum sent to all pre-qualified bidders contained information about the work the Department intended to commission from BRE post privatisation, comprising both on-going contracts and new work to be let on a single tender basis to BRE. Detailed information about this work was placed in the data room for the benefit of shortlisted bidders, and updated as appropriate. In addition, both shortlisted bidders were given the opportunity to talk to DOE customers about future opportunities.

It will be for other Government Departments to decide for themselves what work they might wish to commission from BRE in the future.

Mr. Raynsford

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) if the Government plan to accept any liability for redundancy costs arising from the proposed privatisation of the Building Research Establishment; [20637]

(2) what discussions have been held between his Department and the two bidders for the Building Research Department about provision for redundancy among existing Building Research Establishment employees and the liability for redundancy payments. [20639]

Mr. Jones

It was made clear to all bidders that decisions on, and funding of, any redundancies post privatisation was a matter for the future owners of BRE. However, the calculation of expected restructuring costs—including redundancies—has been an important aspect of valuing BRE and, for prospective purchasers, for deciding how much to bid. Therefore in order to maintain a level playing field, all pre-qualified bidders were provided with assumptions regarding redundancy costs for different categories of staff, which they were requested to use in preparing their indicative bids.

The two shortlisted bidders were given access to the data room which contained: a note by the Government Actuary's Department on redundancy entitlement in the Civil Service; the civil service compensation scheme report and explanatory booklet "PCSPS Early Retirement and Redundancy"; information from the Government Actuary's Department relating to estimated redundancy costs by category of staff.

At both stages, subsequent discussions were held with those bidders who requested them—including both short-listed bidders at stage 2—in order to clarify where necessary the figures and the basis on which bids were to be submitted.

Mr. Raynsford

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many staff are currently employed at the Building Research Establishment; and how many redundancies are forecast in the in-house bid team's proposals. [20638]

Mr. Jones

At close of play on 14 March 1997 there were 660 people employed at BRE, 633.2 full-time equivalent staff.

Information given to the staff and trade unions by the management bid team indicates that they expect there to be in the order of 115 job losses following transfer to the private sector.

Mr. Garel-Jones

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he will be in a position to make a statement about the Building Research Establishment. [20826]

Mr. Jones

On 15 March my Deaprtment entered into a contract to sell the Building Research Establishment to the preferred purchaser, the management bid team. The consideration is £1.7 million, plus an adjustment based on the balance sheet at completion. The sale agreements include provision for the Department to benefit from any windfall gain the purchaser may receive in respect of property, intellectual property, or reduced business rates. We hope to complete this transaction shortly.