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Contracts Finder Website

Volume 558: debated on Wednesday 6 February 2013

The Prime Minister launched Contracts Finder two years ago to make Government procurement opportunities more accessible for small and medium-sized enterprises. That is precisely what that site does.

I thank the Minister for her reply and her letter, which I received this morning in reply to my question to her and her colleagues last September about the number of contracts with Atos. We know that the Government have about £3 billion-worth of contracts with Atos and in her answer she referred me to the Contracts Finder website, but a significant number of contracts were not on that site. Now that she has provided those details, will she tell me why the Cabinet Office does not include contracts renewed since 1 January 2011 given that they are renewed and extended by her Department?

Of the contracts identified in response to the hon. Gentleman’s inquiries, only seven are required to be on Contracts Finder and each of them is there. We are publishing more contract opportunities and more contract information than ever before and we are seeing an increase in the amount of business going to SMEs. Contracts Finder was designed to help suppliers, particularly SMEs, to find contract opportunities, whereas the hon. Gentleman’s Government did nothing on that in 13 years.

The Minister has just referred to what happened three years ago. Has she had an opportunity to assess why small businesses were winning such a small share of Government procurement contracts when the Government came to power?

We are absolutely serious about opening up Government business to SMEs, and it is a shame that the previous Administration appeared not to be. We have made progress: we have posted information about the opportunities, as I said in response to the previous question; we have removed bureaucratic pre-qualification processes; we have given SMEs a voice at the top table; and we have made Government more accountable through the mystery shopper service. My hon. Friend knows that it is a shame that the previous Government did not do any of those things.