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National Procurement Service

Volume 565: debated on Wednesday 3 July 2013

11. What assessment he has made of the effect of the Welsh Government’s national procurement service on suppliers based in England. (162134)

Public sector contracts are an important source of income for many businesses. Although I support efforts to make the procurement of public service contracts more streamlined in Wales, I do not think that should be at the expense of ensuring value for money regardless of where the supplier is located.

Small businesses in Herefordshire find it increasingly difficult to become accredited suppliers to the Welsh public sector. There is a growing tendency, and indeed a Welsh Government policy, to encourage public organisations to buy Welsh. Does the Secretary of State share my view that public organisations in Wales should not be discouraged from buying from English suppliers and that the Welsh Government should make it very clear that they cannot do so?

I trust that the new public procurement process will be driven by providing value for taxpayers’ money, irrespective of where the business is located. Part of the object of the procurement service is to develop local supply chains, and in many parts of Wales the local economy will include businesses located in England.

Will the Secretary of State applaud the work of Professor Dermot Cahill of Bangor university, who is working with others and the Welsh Government to increase the number of small and medium-sized enterprises that are now making use of procurement in Wales? Would the right hon. Gentleman not say that, in that regard, Wales is leading the way?

I hear what the hon. Gentleman says, but frankly the word from smaller businesses in Wales is that they are frequently precluded from bidding because of the Welsh procurement process. I hope that will change under the new arrangements.