Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

ICT (External Consultants)

Oral Answers to Questions — Cabinet Office – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 10th March 2010.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Sandra Gidley Sandra Gidley Shadow Health Minister 11:30 am, 10th March 2010

How many external consultants have been recruited by her Department to work on ICT projects in the last three years.

Photo of Dawn Butler Dawn Butler Assistant Whip, Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office, Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office) (Young Citizens and Youth Engagement)

The Department examines requirements for external consultancy on a case-by-case basis. Cabinet Office is committed in the long term to upskilling the IT department in order to ensure that we reduce the requirement for external resources, and we are building in-house the capacity, culture and skills that are needed to increase efficiency.

Photo of Sandra Gidley Sandra Gidley Shadow Health Minister

If the Government are decreasing staff numbers and then giving the same jobs to consultants, how can we be sure that we are getting value for money? A neighbour who was working on a Government IT project within a Department refused to relocate and was then redeployed by a consultancy firm at a much higher salary. How can that sort of example represent value for money?

Photo of Dawn Butler Dawn Butler Assistant Whip, Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office, Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office) (Young Citizens and Youth Engagement)

It is important that we consider a couple of areas. For instance, from 1 April 2009 the Cabinet Office required all proposed procurements for external resources to be approved by the external resources board. External resources are used only when the external supplier offers skills or resources that are not available within a Department, and offers value for money. [Interruption.] That, coupled with the upskilling of internal ICT departments, will ensure that the Department does secure value for money.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Chair, Members Estimate Committee, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Speaker of the House of Commons, Speaker of the House of Commons

Order. I do hope that the House will come to order. It is very discourteous to the Minister who is answering the question at the Dispatch Box for people to sit wittering away to each other as though their conversations are more important than the answer. They are not.

Photo of Joan Walley Joan Walley Labour, Stoke-on-Trent North

May I say how much I agree with you, Mr. Speaker? It is so important that people at home can hear what is being said.

On consultants, may I say to my hon. Friend how important it is that we secure local procurement for the various contracts that exist? It is important to ensure that, when ICT is procured, there are local jobs for local people.

Photo of Dawn Butler Dawn Butler Assistant Whip, Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office, Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office) (Young Citizens and Youth Engagement)

I thank my hon. Friend for championing, and ensuring that we have, local jobs for local people. We have to consider value for money and whether we have the skills in-house to provide the services and IT strategies that we need.

Photo of Patrick Cormack Patrick Cormack Chair, Northern Ireland Affairs Committee

Will the Minister very kindly stop this assault on the English language? Can we drop these awful terms, such as "upskilling" and "third sector"?

Photo of Dawn Butler Dawn Butler Assistant Whip, Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office, Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office) (Young Citizens and Youth Engagement)

Upskilling is now a recognised and understandable term. I apologise if the hon. Gentleman is put off by it, but I explain to him that it means that we will educate people further in the necessary skills that they need in order to do the job. I hope that that makes it clearer to him.