To ask the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed, representing the House of Commons Commission, pursuant to his answer of 10 May, Official Report, column 603, what evaluation he has made of the value for money of paying the sum referred to to Saxon Bampfylde as headhunters in order to select a new director of works for the Palace of Westminster.
(On behalf of the House of Commons Commissioners): The Commission itself decided that management consultants should be used to assist in making an appointment to the important new post of director of works. The firm concerned was chosen from a list of six originally approached. The price charged was at the lower end of the tenders and I understand that the firm performed its duties very well. I expect an announcement of the name of the director of works to be made shortly.
What evidence does the hon. Gentleman have for using the words, "very well"? The firm having netted a cool £20,500 from the taxpayer, should not the House expect that in that which is done in its name a certain courtesy of confidence should be extended to candidates asked to apply by civil servants and permanent secretaries who have known them for a long time?
There were more than 200 applicants for that post and the consultants did a great deal of work in looking at the applications. If the hon. Gentleman has come across an unsatisfactory communication of some kind, I should be happy to look into the matter.
On recruitment, will the hon. Gentleman reconsider the reply that he gave me on 14 May, when he would not tell me what the educational qualifications were for the Clerk's Department?