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Volume 264: debated on Thursday 19 October 1995

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what proposals he is currently considering regarding the future privatisation of activities and services currently conducted by his Department's personnel; and if he will make a statement; [37720](2) which services and activities conducted by his Department are currently the focus of prior options studies. [37782]

The Ministry of Defence continues to play a full part in the Government's competing for quality initiative, which provides a framework of technique and processes for delivering cost-effective and high-quality defence support through the increased use of competition and private sector involvement. Under the Department's CFQ programme all defence support activities are subject to continuous review by senior managers and budget holders under the prior options process. This process considers privatisation, strategic contracting-out or market testing, the objective in each case being to gain maximum efficiency through exposure to competitive pressures. The projects and activities which are considered for review under the CFQ programme are published in "Government Opportunities", available from the Library of the House.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what proposals he is considering for the privatisation of weapons and ammunitions transportation; and if he will make a statement. [37728]

The Ministry of Defence is considering the market testing of its freight distribution service as part of the Government's "Front Line First" initiative. Contractors are being invited to bid in competition with existing military organisations. The transportation of weapons and ammunition is a small part of this overall task. Private companies and manufacturers themselves already move ammunition and explosives on a regular basis. Safety and security will be paramount considerations in the proposed market test. The transportation of freight in the forward operational areas will, however, remain in-house.