To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what professional advice he has received about options for transferring Professional and Executive Recruitment out of the public sector.
I announced on 2 December the appointment of Lloyds merchant bank to advise me on the options for transferring PER out of the public sector.There is extensive private sector provision in the activities which PER provides on a fee-charging basis. It is the Government's view that activities of a clearly commercial nature are better conducted in the private sector.I have now received Lloyds' advice, which recommends that PER should be transferred out of the public sector through a sale by tender. This recognises, I believe, that the current PER operation is essentially a commercial recruitment business and that it will have the opportunity both to realise its full commercial potential and to develop better in the private sector.The Government intend therefore to proceed with privatisation. I have asked Lloyds merchant bank to conduct the necessary preparatory work over the next couple of months, with a view to offering PER for sale, through a private tender process open to all interested parties, at the earliest opportunity.I am keen that PER's staff should have every chance to benefit from the wider opportunities that privatisation will open up for PER. I shall therefore offer all PER's established staff the option of accepting voluntary secondment arrangements. When PER transfers to the private sector, staff who have opted for these arrangements will remain in the business as civil servants on secondment for a limited period on favourable terms. Staff who do not opt for voluntary secondment will be redeployed within the Department of Employment group prior to privatisation.