Government Policy Co-ordination

Oral Answers to Questions — Duchy of Lancaster – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th February 1997.

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Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Opposition Deputy Chief Whip (Commons), Shadow Spokesperson (Health) 12:00 am, 24th February 1997

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what criteria he uses for assessing the effectiveness of his responsibilities for co-ordinating Government policy. [15528]

Photo of Mr Michael Bates Mr Michael Bates , Langbaurgh

There is overwhelming evidence that the Government's policies are delivering economic prosperity, upholding decent commonsense values in pursuit of law, order and justice and providing first-class public services.

Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Opposition Deputy Chief Whip (Commons), Shadow Spokesperson (Health)

That was not an answer to the question, so I shall push the Minister on the question that I asked. What consideration was given last week to how effectively Government policy is co-ordinated? The Deputy Prime Minister or his colleagues either heard directly or had reported to them the Foreign Secretary's statement on the "Today" programme that the Government were "hostile" to a single European currency. It was then confirmed to them that the Foreign Secretary had confirmed that he did not wish to withdraw the statement; and it was only in the evening that they managed to issue what appeared to be a variation of that statement in agreement with the Chancellor. Is not getting the Chancellor and the Foreign Secretary to say the same thing a fairly good test of how effectively Government policy is co-ordinated?

Photo of Mr Michael Bates Mr Michael Bates , Langbaurgh

They were of course saying the same thing—that was made abundantly clear later that evening when they both made a statement to that effect. The matter is therefore closed. People outside the House are interested not so much in the alleged differences inside the Conservative Cabinet as in the fact that only one party in the House is wholly united in wanting a federal united states of Europe—the hon. Gentleman's own.

Photo of Mr David Congdon Mr David Congdon , Croydon North East

When ensuring the effective implementation of Government policy, what steps does my hon. Friend take to make certain that local authorities play the role that they are required to by legislation proposed by the Government? In respect of community care, what steps are taken to ensure that local councils do not discriminate against the private sector and spend more on their own homes, thereby denying others places? In respect of compulsory competitive tendering, what steps are being taken to ensure that councils do not discriminate in favour of their own workers?

Photo of Mr Michael Bates Mr Michael Bates , Langbaurgh

My hon. Friend makes a solid point. In relation to community care, he will be aware that we stipulated that 85 per cent. of new beds must be put into the private sector. If that were not the case, many private sector beds would be left empty. Not many local authorities are meeting that criterion. That is why, through the Audit Commission, we have produced indicators that show the performance of different authorities.

Compulsory competitive tendering, which saves public services some £400 million a year, would be abolished by Labour.