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?
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.
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.