Treasury committee criticises CBI evidence

20 Jan 00
Representatives of the Confederation of British Industry came under fire this week from a member of the Treasury select committee's inquiry into the Private Finance Initiative.

21 January 2000

Jim Cousins, the Labour MP for Newcastle upon Tyne, picked up on an apparent contradiction between the CBI's written and oral evidence.

He took to task Charles Cox, chairman of the CBI's public procurement and efficiency committee, who had told the inquiry that it was not the confederation's place to advise where PFI should apply.

Cox said the CBI was interested in the 'how and not the what'. But Cousins reminded Cox, fellow procurement committee member David Metter and Kate Barber, the confederation's chief economic adviser, that their written evidence had clearly made policy recommendations.

The written evidence expressed concern that the government had agreed that 'soft' facilities management services, such as portering, catering and laundering could be excluded from PFI deals. This would 'damage value for money' and 'forgo cost and service quality advantages' it said.

Cousins aggressively pursued the point, asking: 'Do you see yourself as passive receivers or do you want to have your point in changing the boundaries?' He then suggested that the CBI had misrepresented the government's views in its evidence.

Cox, Metter and Barber defended themselves by saying that decisions such as whether clinical services should be transferred were up to the government.


Did you enjoy this article?