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Ministry Of Defence (Bath): Contract Cleaning

Volume 415: debated on Thursday 11 December 1980

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3.4 p.m.

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they still maintain that contract cleaning is cheaper than direct cleaning at the Ministry of Defence (Bath).

Yes, my Lords.

My Lords, I thank the Minister for that brief reply. Is he aware that the contract cleaning firms indulge in malpractices? These reduce, for instance, the employer's national insurance contribution. As a result, women cleaners are being made redundant, on the basis of cost comparison. Is the Minister also aware that the Home Counties Cleaning Services Group Limited has insisted on some of its women cleaners accepting as payment for the week's work two cheques in different names to be paid into their account, thus avoiding the employer's national insurance contribution as well as income tax? The department have been given sworn statutory declarations, copies of which I have here. Further, is the Minister aware that an officer of the Civil Service Union has seen a contractor's attendance register, with such euphonious names as Mrs. Sunday, Mrs. Monday and Mrs. Tuesday? Finally, would the Minister—

This is the final point. We on this side of the House treat this matter a little more seriously than those on the other side. Would the Minister—

My Lords, I wonder whether the noble Lord would ask his question. Then my noble friend would be delighted to answer it. His supplementary is, I think the noble Lord will agree, a little long.

My Lords, the noble Lord referred at some length and in some detail to a specific case which is being investigated. Even if it proves that one contractor has behaved improperly, this would not necessarily invalidate the principle involved.