Select Committee on Treasury Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 360-365)



  360. You have never been aware of what share of the 1 billion?
  (Mr Acheson) They have not broken the 1 billion down, they said here is 1 billion, we all need to work very hard to achieve it.
  (Mr Sykes) We just do our best.

  361. You do your best, I am sure you do. Are you aware that you are satisfying some internal target of theirs or are you falling short, do they tell you that?
  (Mr Sykes) No.

  362. No.

Mr Cousins

  363. I have been mulling over what you told me about PFI, you know, it is clear that you want to give local government, in particular, a better steer about what kind of PFI to go for, you feel there is a bit of a gap. OGC are presumably unaware of your views about this?
  (Mr Acheson)There are various fora on PFI. To answer your question, do they know that we would like that? We have made it clear in a general sense that this might be a good idea. I am not sure we specifically said "and for local authorities", then I am not sure that we necessarily need to be that precise if we said generally. There could be some more work done.

  364. Do you not think you should? To be honest, we have had to tease out what paragraph 10 really meant under the wodge of "generally welcoming" and "fully successful", and all of the rest of it. It is quite an important point which we have teased out and you are saying that really you have not actually put it to them?
  (Mr Acheson) I am skimming my briefing, no I do not think we have, not in the way that you are describing.

  365. They could not be criticised for not doing it. I am not trying to manoeuvre you into something where I then go, bong, they could not really be criticised for this gap in their guidance because it has never really been put to them that they should plug it. I just want to be clear about that point in all fairness to them.
  (Mr Sykes) We have not had a letter from me to Peter Gershon saying, "please will you do this".

  Mr Cousins: The logic of paragraph 10 suggests that the letter ought to be written, but that is not really for me to say.


  366. We will leave it there, Mr Sykes.
  (Mr Acheson) There is one other point that we feel might be of interest to the Committee that so far has not come out at all in the evidence that Peter gave and from what we heard from health and what they said, and that is government procurement is in a policy and regulated framework that does not exist for the private sector, it is not just, let us go and do some good commercial deals, it is let us do commercial deals but within government procurement policy which sits within a regulatory framework of the World Trade Organisation and Government Procurement Agreement, the EC Procurement Directives and implementing United Kingdom regulations. So there is a whole raft of things that govern the way we operate and I felt it might be helpful just to explain that to the Committee. OGC then have within that a small team that is responsible for both procurement policy and implementing the EC Directives and international law, and they also are involved with the Commission in revising the procurement directives and helping them draw up the interpretative documents regarding procurement and social issues[10]. A whole load of work is going on there which has not been touched on at all and, in our view, the OGC has done a very good job in influencing the Commission in the proposed directives and the interpretative documents in giving the regulatory environment in which we work. If they had not done a good job and we had been landed with stuff, there might not be good procurement practices. So there is a good story there that somehow has been missed. We thought we would draw that to your attention.

  Chairman: We are grateful for that. We will certainly reflect on it to see if we need to pursue it. Thank you very much for coming to see us today.


10    Note by witness: There are two interpretative documents, one on environmental issues in purchasing and one on social issues.Back

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