PARLIAMENTARY DEBATES

HOUSE OF COMMONS OFFICIAL REPORT

Second Standing Committee on Statutory Instruments, &c.

DRAFT BUYING AGENCY TRADING FUND (EXTENSION) ORDER 1995

Tuesday 27 June 1995

LONDON: HMSO

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The Committee consisted of the following Members:

Chairman: MRS. GWYNETH DUNWOODY

Abbott, Ms Diane (Hackney, North and Stoke Newington)

Beresford, Sir Paul(Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment)

Church, Ms Judith (Dagenham)

Deva, Mr. Nirj Joseph (Brentford and Isleworth)

Graham, Mr. Thomas (Renfrew, West and Inverclyde)

Illsley, Mr. Eric (Barnsley, Central)

Miller, Mr. Andrew (Ellesmere Port and Neston)

Pickles, Mr. Eric (Brentwood and Ongar)

Pickthall, Mr. Colin (Lancashire, West)

Prentice, Mr. Gordon (Pendle)

Shepherd, Mr. Colin (Hereford)

Stern, Mr. Michael (Bristol, North-West)

Taylor, Mr. Matthew (Truro)

Townsend, Mr. Cyril D. (Bexleyheath)

Walker, Mr. Bill (Tayside, North)

Wilkinson, Mr. John (Ruislip-Northwood)

Willetts, Mr. David (Havant)

Yeo, Mr. Tim (Suffolk, South)

Miss S. A. R. Adams, Committee Clerk

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3 Second Standing Committee on Statutory Instrument, &c. Tuesday 27 June 1995

[MRS. GWYNETH DUNWOODY in the Chair]

Draft Buying Agency Trading Fund (Extension) Order 1995

10.30 am

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Sir Paul Beresford): I beg to move, That the Committee has considered the draft Buying Agency Trading Fund (Extension) Order 1995. I welcome you again to this grand Room, Mrs. Dunwoody. On 23 February, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment announced two decisions: first, that the Buying Agency is to continue as a next steps agency for a further five years; secondly, that the fuel branch within the Department of the Environment should, subject to parliamentary approval, transfer to the Buying Agency. The order before us would give effect to the second part of my right hon. Friend's announcement. The roles of the Buying Agency and the fuel branch are complementary. The Buying Agency procures a wide range of goods and services on behalf of public sector organisations, with the aim of achieving the best value for money. Its sales last year were £133 million. Similarly, the fuel branch negotiates contracts for the purchase of fuels on behalf of a wide range of public sector bodies and it has a successful record of securing advantageous terms for them. Its current turnover is about £200 million. The agency and the fuel branch together enable Government Departments and the wider public sector to procure goods and services through negotiated contracts. 4 The transfer will be achieved without redundancies, but with some reduction in the number of fuel branch staff owing to retirements and the redeployment of administrative staff. The fuel branch will become more accountable because it will become part of a trading fund providing a commercial discipline. The order will achieve the transfer by incorporating the assets of the fuel branch into those of the Buying Agency and by redefining the scope of the trading fund. Approval of the order will enable the transfer of the Buying Agency to take place on 1 July. I commend the extension order as the best means of achieving a logical and straightforward merger of the two Government procurement functions.

10.32 am

Mr. Eric Illesley (Barnsley, Central): I shall not detain the Committee. The Minister said that the transfer would be achieved without redundancies but through retirement and redeployment. Why was it considered necessary to transfer the fuel branch to the trading fund? The explanatory note to the order explains that the fuel branch seems to have extensive assets and few liabilities and, as the Minister said, it is very successful. What further advantages will be achieved by making the transfer?

10.33 am

Sir Paul Beresford: Quite simply, it was thought that the fuel branch would remain a self-contained unit, but it is too small a unit to be efficient. Combining the two branches would make it more efficient. The effect would be a reduction in staff, but no reduction in work load.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved, That the Committee has considered the draft Buying Agency Trading Fund (Extension) Order 1995.

Committee rose at twenty-six minutes to Eleven o'clock.

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THE FOLLOWING MEMBERS ATTENDED THE COMMITTEE:

Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Chairman)

Beresford, Sir Paul

Deva, Mr.

Illsley, Mr.

Pickles, Mr.

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Shepherd, Mr. Colin

Townsend, Mr. Cyril D.

Wilkinson, Mr.

Willetts, Mr.

Yeo, Mr.