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Council Contracts

Volume 167: debated on Wednesday 14 February 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what action he is taking to prevent councils from avoiding competition by submitting contracts to tender in a way guaranteed to favour their own work force.

The Department investigates all complaints of anti-competitive practices by local authorities on their merits. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has powers of sanction under sections 19A and 19B of the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980 and sections 13 and 14 of the Local Government Act 1988 and will use them where necessary. To date, notices under section 19A of the 1980 Act have been served on the metropolitan borough of Wirral and the London borough of Brent. A direction was subsequently given to the metropolitan borough of Wirral under section 19B of that Act. Notices under section 13 of the Local Government Act 1988 have been served on five local authorities—the London borough of Hillingdon, Bristol city council, Wolverhampton metropolitan borough council, Knowsley metropolitan borough council and Charnwood borough council. My right hon. Friend is currently considering responses received from these authorities.