To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement about the future of the Insolvency Service.
The Insolvency Service became an executive agency of the DTI in March 1990. I am now undertaking a review to consider the scope for improving the way in which the Insolvency Service performs its functions, and achieving better value for money, by making more use of the private sector in the work currently carried out by the Insolvency Service and its official receivers. In particular, the review will look at ways in which official receivers can concentrate more on their important investigatory role by involving the private sector to a larger extent in mechanical processing work in insolvencies.I will be asking independent consultants to consider: the extent to which official receivers' functions and tasks could be carried out in the private sector; the extent to which official receivers could withdraw from these functions and tasks and the consequences of such withdrawal; whether a market exists to carry out the work and what are the risks; value for money; how the division of work might be organised; and quality control. A number of consultancy firms have been invited to submit proposals. Once the chosen firm has identified the options I shall decide which, if any, to pursue, and will report to the House on my conclusions.