To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if, in the light of advice by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities on the effect of any reduction in the threshold or any increase in the proportion of works required to be put out to tender on roads authorities' ability to maintain adequate direct labour organisations, he will abandon his proposals to change the present direct labour organisation tendering regime.
No. Last summer a survey of Scottish roads authorities was undertaken to find out the distribution of work between the direct labour organisations and private contractors in 1985–86, which was the first fully operational year of the present system (1984–85 having been a transitional year). The survey showed that it would be practicable to reduce from £50,000 to £25,000 the threshold above which all general roads work in Scotland must be put out to tender and, on 10 April 1987, it was announced that this reduction would be put into operation from 1 April 1988, subject to a further survey of the performance of Scottish roads authorities over the period 1986–87. The Scottish Development Department is analysing this second survey and a further announcement will be made in due course.
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has received from the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities regarding the impact of any further reduction in the threshold or increase in the proportion of works required to be put out to tender on the ability of roads departments to retain sufficient labour with the proper expertise to cope with a severe winter emergency.
The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities has made known to the Scottish Development Department, on three separate occasions, its opposition to increased competition for roads work undertaken by roads authorities' direct labour organisations.