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Fuel and Power Imports

Lord Mason of Barnsley asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Sainsbury of Turville: Detailed information on fuel and power imported into and exported from the United Kingdom in 2001 and 2002 are published on the DTI website at the following address: http://www.dti.gov.uk/energy/inform/energy–stats/foreign– trade/index.shtml. It is also contained in Annex G of the Digest of United Kingdom Energy Statistics 2003 Internet Booklet (which is a printed version of tables that are otherwise available only on the DTI website). A copy of this booklet is available in the House Library.

In summary, 91.1 million tonnes of oil equivalent of fuel was imported during 2002, down from 94.7 million tonnes of oil equivalent during 2001. 73 per cent of crude oil imported during 2002 came from Norway and a further 9 per cent from Russia. Two-thirds of the coal imported came from South Africa, Australia, and Russia.

Public Sector Contracts: Small Businesses

Lord Taylor of Warwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they will take to make it easier for small businesses to bid for and win public sector contracts.[HL5101]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: This month the Government responded positively to the recent report Government: Supporter and Customer by the Better Regulation Task Force/Small Business Council (BRTF/SBC). This report made 11 recommendations in the area of public sector procurement with the aim of creating a level playing field for SMEs to compete against large companies for contracts.

The BRTF/SBC recommendations are being piloted through two SME procurement schemes—one in the West Midlands area and a second in the London Borough of Haringey. In the West Midlands, the Office of Government Commerce is working closely with the RDA (Advantage West Midlands), the Government Office for the Region, the Small Business Service and other government and regional partners. In Haringey, the pilot is being led by the Small Business Service, working with Trade Local, an award winning initiative of the borough council and its partners to promote a more open commercial relationship between local government and local businesses. It is intended that these pilots will implement, in a controlled way, many of the recommendations of the BRTF/SBC report and inform government of the most effective ways of assisting small businesses in this area.

The Small Business Service also co-ordinates the small business research initiative (SBRI). This initiative has the aims of stimulating demand for research and development from SMEs along with the creation of new market research. The government departments involved with the SBRI have an aim to buy at least 2.5 per cent of their R&D requirements from SMEs during the project.

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Employment Service Estate

Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In respect of the former Employment Service Estate which is to be outsourced by the Department for Work and Pensions to Land Securities Trillium (LST), (a) how many organisations were invited to bid for this agreement, and how many did so; (b) if there was no competitive bidding process, how is value for taxpayers' money assured; and (c) whether there were any provisions for exclusive or preferential access to future agreements in the original PRIME agreement between the department and LST; and[HL4896]

    In respect of the former Employment Service Estate which is to be outsourced by the Department for Work and Pensions to Land Securities Trillium, what is the amount of the agreed freehold valuation; and[HL4897]

    In respect of the former Employment Service Estate which is to be outsourced by the Department for Work and Pensions to Land Securities Trillium, what independent valuations have been carried out on these properties; when they were carried out; by whom; and on what basis; and[HL4898]

    In respect of the former Employment Service Estate which is to be outsourced by the Department for Work and Pensions to Land Securities Trillium, what are the total number, total area and total estimated rental value of the freehold properties in the estate; and [HL4899]

    In respect of the former Employment Service Estate which is to be outsourced by the Department for Work and Pensions to Land Securities Trillium, what is the current estimated valuation of the freehold properties in the estate on a vacant possession basis; and [HL4900]

    In respect of the former Employment Service Estate which is to be outsourced by the Department for Work and Pensions to Land Securities Trillium (LST), what are the estimated total payments for each year up to 2018 to LST under the proposed agreement (a) if no properties are vacated and (b) if all options to vacate properties are exercised as soon as possible; and [HL4901]Joan

    In respect of the former Employment Service Estate which is to be outsourced by the Department for Work and Pensions to Land Securities Trillium (LST), how much space out of the total of 834,000 square metres the department will be able to vacate with no further financial liability in each year up to 2018.[HL4917]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): Following a full option appraisal review, the Department for Work and Pensions took the decision that the best way to deliver an optimum value for money

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solution for the management of its estate was to expand the existing PRIME contract, through negotiation, to include the former Employment Service buildings. On this basis only Land Securities Trillium, as the incumbent service provider for PRIME, was invited to submit a formal proposal. The original PRIME contract did not have any specific exclusivity or preferential provisions.

Ensuring the key objective of obtaining value for money necessitated transparent and demonstrable calculations. Financial comparators have been used against all aspects of the bid, and the final negotiated package is deemed to offer DWP an overall price that compares very favourably with external benchmarks as well as delivering an improved and consistent level of service. The process has been subject to ongoing independent scrutiny to ensure the robustness of the outcome.

DWP commissioned the Valuation Office to value those properties being transferred as part of the expanded contract. This work was undertaken during the summer of 2003. The agreed valuation of the freehold properties being transferred to Land Securities Trillium, which was carried out on a vacant possession basis, is £128.4 million.

The expected number of freehold properties to be transferred is 336. These properties total 223,000 m 2 (net internal area) and have an estimated rental value of £15.7 million.

Under the agreed terms of the expanded PRIME contract and in line with DWP's departmental plan, in addition to existing surplus space, the department can vacate up to 228,000 m 2 of space during the course of the contract.

Under the two different vacation scenarios cited, DWP would make the following estimated payments to Land Securities Trillium during the period up to 2018:


    (a) a total of £2,962 million if no properties are vacated; and


    (b) around £2,200 million if all options to vacate properties are exercised as soon as possible.

SchlumbergerSema

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether there have been any demonstrable savings in income support and disability benefits since the Benefits Agency Medical Services were contracted out to SchlumbergerSema.[HL4967]

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: Processing times have improved on sickness and disability benefits since the contracting out of medical services to SchlumbergerSema. The National Audit Office in its recent report Progress in improving the medical assessment of Incapacity and Disability benefits (HC1141) estimates that this has resulted in a one-off saving to the taxpayer of some £29 million and an annual saving of some £21 million.

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The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether there are any conflicts of interest between SchlumbergerSema and any of its subsidiary companies with particular regard to decisions made in industrial injury benefit and disability benefit cases.[HL4968]

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: The role of the medical services doctor is to provide an independent, impartial opinion on the medical aspects of benefit claims. The evidence they provide forms just one part of the evidence used by decision-makers in determining benefit entitlement.

In addition our contract with SchlumbergerSema contains a specific clause requiring them to use all reasonable endeavours to avoid any actual or perceived conflicts of interest.

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What services SchlumbergerSema provides for the Department for Constitutional Affairs.[HL4911]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (Lord Filkin): The Department for Constitutional Affairs also replies on behalf of its associated offices and the Court Service.

Since 2001–02, SchlumbergerSema has provided occupational health services, project and programme management and consultancy services to the department.


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