asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works and Buildings, whether he will state, in relation to both post and future buildings for service or supply requirements, respectively, what are the selective principles upon which suitable firms are invited or allowed to tender; and for what reasons any such firms are refused that opportunity?
My Department endeavours to confine invitations to tender for its building contracts to firms experienced in the organisation of work of the size contemplated, adequately equipped with key personnel, plant and finance, and not fully loaded with other Government work. A limited selection is made in each case and, subject to the desirability of spreading invitations as widely as possible, firms established in the vicinity of proposed schemes are given first consideration. I have recently set up an advisory committee of representatives of the building and civil engineering industries, one of whose functions will be to advise on the best methods of spreading contracts in an equitable manner.
Is it within the province of any one of my hon. Friends directors, some of whom are associated with the building industry, to say which firms are to be invited to tender and which disallowed, although these may be quite suitably equipped and sufficiently nearly located to do the work properly and well?
I would not accept the implication that firms are nominated in the way that my hon. Friend suggests. At the present time I am looking over the whole of the list of contractors that are invited to tender and seeing that none of them are overloaded.
The hon. and gallant Member will have to give an instance in order to get a reply. I have stated already that the number of firms invited to tender for a given contract has necessarily to be limited. We could not invite 50 or 60 firms, because only one could get the job, and the industry would object to our making the list too long. Every list is varied, and firms are not invited to take on a second job until they have done the first.