§ Miss McIntosh
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the litigation in the European Court of Justice on the use of framework arrangements in Northern Ireland; what discussions he has held with other departments on the implications for procurement procedure; and if he will place in the Library the Reasoned Opinion of the European Commission of 2 May 1997 and the response by the Northern Ireland section of his Department of 25 May 1997. 
§ Mr. Geoffrey Robinson
The European Commission has announced its decision to refer the United Kingdom to the European Court of Justice concerning the use of framework arrangements for the award of contracts to 777W which EC Directives on public procurement apply. The United Kingdom does not accept that the directives have been breached and will continue to put its case forcefully, if necessary. The case has been discussed with departments.
The Commission's Reasoned Opinion and the United Kingdom's response of 25 July 1997 cover complex and delicate issues which might not be raised before the Court. They are considered by both parties as confidential between them and I am unable to place these documents in the library. If the case goes ahead, details of it will of course be available in the judgment of the Court.