Public Sector Contracts

Oral Answers to Questions — Wales – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 19th March 1973.

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Photo of Mr Ted Rowlands Mr Ted Rowlands , Merthyr Tydfil 12:00 am, 19th March 1973

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will issue advice to local authorities on the impact of entry into the EEC upon their contracting procedures.

Photo of Mr Peter Thomas Mr Peter Thomas , Hendon South

Welsh Office circular No. 4 of 1973 was issued to all local authorities in January about the effects of entry into the EEC on public sector contracts. A further circular will be issued in due course.

Photo of Mr Ted Rowlands Mr Ted Rowlands , Merthyr Tydfil

What action does the Secretary of State intend to take to avoid the increase of European red tape that will result from the fact that EEC directives mean that every contract worth more than £450,000, which is less than the cost of the average secondary school, or a large sewerage scheme, will have to be tendered for on a European basis? Will not this lead to interminable delay? In addition, will it not destroy the whole idea that many such contracts should be awarded locally to create local employment?

Photo of Mr Peter Thomas Mr Peter Thomas , Hendon South

The hon. Gentleman is right when he says that what it means is that contracts of more than £0·41 million will require to be advertised. I believe that to be an extremely good idea and it may well be that we shall have some contracts fulfilled more cheaply than would otherwise be the case.

Photo of Mr Elystan Morgan Mr Elystan Morgan , Cardiganshire

Does that mean that the Government are completely rejecting the recommendation of the Bolton Committee on Small Businesses that central and local government should favour local enterprises? Have they abandoned that?

Photo of Mr Peter Thomas Mr Peter Thomas , Hendon South

In the nature of things, it is to be expected that generally local firms will be in a strong competitive position. In any event it is expected that only major national projects in the United Kingdom will attract competition from member States in the Community.