It is a management responsibility to make the most advantageous arrangements. So far as my own Department is concerned, I consider that there is a place for both directly employed labour and contractors.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that quite a campaign is being waged on this question by Aims of Industry, which is reflected in the questions being put by hon. Members opposite?
I know about Aims of Industry, of course. It is always opposed to direct labour. The tragedy in this argument is that, by imputation, nothing is good about directly employed labour and everything is good about contractors —when the truth is that there is a bit of bad about both.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that the public works department in Sheffield has made a profit of £14 million in the last 12 years and that the Department asked Aims of Industry and Mr. Malcolm Hoppé to investigate their hooks, and that when they did, they found nothing wrong and had to accept that this was genuine profit obtained by tendering in competition with private enterprise?
I accept that and I think that it confirms what I said, that there is a great deal of good about directly employed labour, where—this is the key—management is efficient.
I did not make a public statement on that matter. The question which his hon. Friend asked related to the period when I was a Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and I referred the whole matter to the National Building Agency. That is the only part that I played in that. I am now the Minister of Public Building and Works—and a darned sight better Minister than some of them on that side would be.