The contract requires completion by 26 August 1985. It is for the contractor to work out his own programme for completing the work by that date. The Department has not refused to pay for any normal winter work.
Is the hon. Lady aware that about 120 workers, members of my union, the Transport and General Workers Union, and of the Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians, have been laid off and are concerned about the matter? What control has her Department over the consulting engineers, W. S. Atkins? Who supervises the contractors, Bovis-Birse, on the Leatherhead to Reigate section of the M25? Can her Department insist on winter working if it is deemed necessary?
Of course I understand the concern of those staff who have been laid off by Bovis-Birse, but they are employed by that contractor and are that contractor's responsibility.
Our consultants, W. S. Atkins, who have an independent role as engineers to the contract, have acted exactly in line with the extensions of time according to the Institute of Civil Engineers' conditions of contract, which were established about 20 years ago. It is not unusual for extensions of contract to be given from time to time, according to what is necessary on a particular contract. I do not have direct control over them. I am not consulted unless a date goes outside the original target, and in this case that was not so.