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Departmental Procurement

Volume 516: debated on Wednesday 20 October 2010

10. What steps his Department is taking to share best practice in procurement among Departments. (18057)

Procurement of basic commodities was carried out without any effort to leverage the scale and buying power of the whole Government—[Interruption.]

Order. I understand the excitement, but I hope that that practice, which was discontinued some time ago, will be discontinued in future. The Minister must be heard.

That led to one part of the Government buying basic office supplies at seven and a half times the cost that other parts incurred. Allowing wasteful spending of that type to remain unreformed would mean that front-line services and the jobs of dedicated public servants would be more at risk. We are mandating that all Departments and public bodies should in future buy through supplier contracts negotiated on behalf of the whole of central Government. That will cut the costs of Government overheads by some—[Interruption]

Order—[Interruption.] Order. In so far as we could hear the Minister, I think we have got the drift of it.

I thank the Minister for his reply in as much as I heard it. It is sound commercial practice to maximise buying power by adding together the purchases of all bodies within an organisation and to use that to drive down prices from suppliers, yet Sir Philip Green found waste arising from huge variation in the prices paid by different Departments. What steps will the Minister take to co-ordinate Government procurement in future?

We will be mandating that all of central Government should buy through centrally negotiated contracts. That will save £500 million in the current year alone, and will drive savings running into billions of pounds in the years that lie ahead.

Will the Minister ensure that best practice in sustainable and green procurement is part of his briefing in ensuring best practice in Departments, and does he consider that the abolition of the Sustainable Development Commission will help or hinder him in that process?

We are committed to procuring in a way that is sustainable, but I do not agree with the hon. Gentleman that maintaining a quango is a guaranteed way to achieve that.