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Property Services Agency

Volume 22: debated on Thursday 29 April 1982

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asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will remove Mr. Norman Baker, joint chief executive of Taylor Woodrow, from the Property Services Agency advisory board, in view of the fact that Taylor Woodrow has been awarded a £32 million contract to build a new underground headquarters for the Royal Air Force near High Wycombe.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if, further to his answer to the hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Lewis) on Wednesday 7 April, he is now able to announce details of his review of the Property Services Agency's internal procedures for safeguarding against financial misconduct.

I have commissioned Sir Geoffrey Wardale, former second permanent secretary of the Department of the Environment, together with a senior partner of Touche Ross, chartered accountants, to carry out a review with the following terms of reference:

"To investigate the circumstances of recent cases of fraud and corruption in PSA and to recommend what changes in procedures or organisation are desirable in the light of your findings."
As I said in my answer on 7 April—[Vol. 21, c.

363]—this inquiry has been set up because of the serious view I take of corruption or alleged corruption. I would

emphasise, however, that, in my opinion, the vast majority of the staff of the PSA carry out their duties honestly and conscientiously and there is no question about their integrity. The small number who have been found guilty of fraud or corruption have brought discredit both on themselves and on the Government service generally and I am looking to the inquiry to give a realistic perspective to this matter and to suggest what changes in procedures or management might be desirable.