Examination of Witnesses (Questions 360
WEDNESDAY 23 JANUARY 2002
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.
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.
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