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Sustainable Procurement

Volume 468: debated on Monday 3 December 2007

3. What account his Department takes of the Government’s code for sustainable procurement in contracting for procuring food and drink for the armed forces. (169647)

The Ministry of Defence is committed to developing sustainable procurement for food and drink, and we are working with our contractors to identify opportunities. However, we need to ensure that value for money and transparency are maintained in our contracting.

At a time when British livestock farmers are recovering from a foot and mouth disease outbreak, does my right hon. Friend agree that the Ministry buying British meat is not only sustainable but good sense? Will he refuse to listen to Ministry buyers who say that price is the obstacle? When the Ministry has worked with the Red Meat Industry Forum to change out-of-date specifications from the Ministry, everybody benefits—from the Ministry to the individual farmer who supplies.

I am more than happy to listen to the points that my hon. Friend or the industry wish to make. Some progress has been made, but price is a barrier in some cases. More than half the beef that we procure is from British sources. That applies to all the pork and all the turkeys, but to only 13 per cent. of the lamb because there are problems with both the product that is provided and its price. If there are ways in which we can work around that, we will examine them and try to move in that direction.

Given the sheer scale of the new project to build a military training academy in St. Athan in my constituency, will the code of the practice be part of the main-gate contract to be signed next year? Will sustainable procurement apply to food and drink at the new tri-service academy?

We will try to implement the code in every aspect of our procurement policy, including applying it to the new facilities at St. Athan, as my hon. Friend requests.

Is my right hon. Friend aware—I am sure that he is—that the NAAFI in Cyprus is now being operated by the French? The first thing that they will do to try to make savings is stop British products being sold in the NAAFI shop. Does he agree that that is unacceptable for our troops?

I am sorry to disappoint my hon. Friend, but I am not aware of that specific instance. I shall look into it afterwards and talk to him further.