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Office of Water Services

Dr. Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) if the executive non-departmental public bodies sponsored by the Office of Water Services publish (a) annual reports, (b) annual accounts, (c) the minutes of meetings, (d) the agendas of meetings and (e) a register of members' interests; and if he will indicate in each instance whether this is (i) under a statutory requirement or (ii) voluntary; [37876]

Mr. Clappison [holding answer 18 July 1996]: The 10 customer service committees--CSCs--of the Office of Water Services are statutory bodies, independent of the water industry, established and maintained by the Director General of Water Services under section 28 of the Water Industry Act 1991. CSCs fall outside the remit of the Parliamentary Commissioner and the Audit Commission, but are subject to scrutiny by the National Audit Office. CSCs have the status of executive non-departmental public bodies but are administratively integrated with Ofwat. They operate to performance standards agreed with the director general and apply the same provisions for open government and the citizen's charter as does Ofwat itself.

Meetings of the CSCs are held in public in accordance with the Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960. Further details of the practices followed by the CSCs in undertaking their business are contained in the annual reports of Ofwat and the CSCs, copies of which are in the Library.

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Dr. Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) if the Ofwat national customer council (a) holds public meetings, (b) conducts public consultation exercises, (c) conducts consultation exercises with outside interests, (d) publishes a register of members' interests, (e) publishes agendas for meetings and (f) publishes the minutes of meetings; and if in each case this is (i) under a statutory requirement or (ii) voluntary; [37909]

Mr. Clappison [holding answer 18 July 1996]: The Ofwat national customer council is a non-statutory body, independent of the water industry, established by the Director General of Water Services. The manner in which it conducts its business is a matter for the council, and is described in its annual report, a copy of which is in the Library.

TRADE AND INDUSTRY

Tied House System

Mr. Nicholas Baker: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make representations to the European Commission about the benefits to customers, tenants and independent brewers of the tied house system. [37551]

Mr. John M. Taylor: The block exemption which deals with the tie between brewer and landlord will first be considered as part of a wider debate on the treatment of distribution agreements under EC competition law. The Commission will publish a Green Paper on this issue later this year. Consideration of specific types of agreement such as the tie will follow on from this Green Paper. At that stage, I will be making representations to the European Commission on the tie.

To that end, I am inviting those involved in the beer industry to provide me with their views on the future of this important regulation.

Contracts

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list the number, nature and total value of contracts awarded by his Department to

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(a) Coopers and Lybrand, (b) KMPG, (c) Price Waterhouse, (d) Ernst and Young, (e) Deloitte and Touche, (f) Arthur Andersen, (g) Grant Thornton, (h) BDO, (i) Stoy Hayward, (j) Pannel Kerr Forster and (k) Robson Rhodes and their subsidiaries and associates during 1995 and 1996. [37336]

Mr. Lang: Only data on external consultancy contracts are held centrally and the following information for the companies in question is available:

CompanyNumber of contracts in 1995
Coopers and Lybrand1
KMPG4
Price Waterhouse0
Ernst and Young4
Deloitte and Touche3
Arthur Andersen0
Grant Thornton0
BDO0
Stoy Hayward2
Pannel Kerr Forster2
Robson Rhodes0

The total value of the contracts was £3,613,000.

CompanyNumber of contracts in 1996
KPMG1
Ernst and Young1

The total value of the contracts is £104,000.

Commercial sensitivity prevents the disclosure of individual contract details. Information on other contracts can be provided only at disproportionate cost.

The information does not include contracts let by the Department's executive agencies, and I have asked the chief executives to reply separately to this question.

Letter from P. R. S. Hartnack to Mr. Austin Mitchell, dated 22 July 1996:


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Letter from Jim Norton to Mr. Austin Mitchell, dated 22 July 1996:



    The President of the Board of Trade has asked me to reply on behalf of the Radiocommunications Agency to your Parliamentary Question about the Agency's use of various firms.
    2 In 1995 the Agency contracted with the following subsidiaries of Deloitte and Touche:
    CSL Managed Services Ltd for the provision of accountancy and financial services valued at between £800-£1m ex-VAT over a period of five years; and
    Touche Ross Management Consultants for a study into the development of channel communication quality limits valued at £56.5k ex-VAT.

Letter from John S. Holden to Mr. Austin Mitchell, dated 22 July 1996:



    You recently asked the President of the Board of Trade for information about contracts awarded to various organisations. I am replying as Chief Executive of Companies House Executive Agency.
    No contracts were awarded by Companies House to any of the firms listed in 1995 or 1996.

Letter from Zelie Armstrong to Mr. Austin Mitchell, dated 22 July 1996:



    The President of the Board of Trade has asked me to reply on behalf of the National Weights and Measures Laboratory to your questions about the number, nature and value of contracts awarded to those companies listed for the years 1995 and 1996.
    This Agency has not awarded a contract to any of the companies listed in your question.

Letter from Desmond Flynn to Mr. Austin Mitchell, dated 22 July 1996:



    The President of the Board of Trade has asked Peter Joyce, The Insolvency Service Agency Chief Executive, to reply to your question about expenditure on external consultants and the number, nature and total of contracts awarded to named firms in 1995 and 1996 by The Insolvency Service. I am replying in Mr. Joyce's absence on leave.
    Details of contracts awarded to the named firms are:

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    Value of contract (including VAT)
    FirmsPurpose1994-951995-96
    Coopers and LybrandAccountancy support£60,000--
    Price WaterhouseUser survey£124,800--
    Ernst and YoungAccountancy support£13,100--
    CSL (subsidiary of Deloitte and Touche)Contracted out accounting services--£88,812
    Stoy HaywardContracting out and management consultancy£94,150--
    Total£292,050£88,812

    The £60,000 payment to Coopers and Lybrand for accountancy support for the Agency was in and about the setting up of systems to enable it to produce commercial style accounts. The £13,100 paid to Ernst and Young for accountancy support was to provide independent professional assurance that financial data had been properly transferred to The Service's new computer system for its Central Accounting Unit.

    The contract with CSL is for 5 years from 1 April 1995. The £88,812 paid in 1995-96 is for services provided in the year. The costs of the services are largely volume related.


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