Monday, December 26, 2005

Prison Service: Furniture Procurement 19 Dec 2005

Prison Service: Furniture Procurement

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have considered allowing prison governors to purchase office consumables and furniture from any supplier, rather than only from approved suppliers, on condition that the items in question cost no more than if obtained from the approved supplier. [HL2026]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): Government purchasing seeks to demonstrate value for money while promoting fair and open competition. As well as value for money, a number of other factors are used to determine the most appropriate products to buy, including: technical, health and safety and environmental considerations, as well as delivery and after sales service. Because of the aggregated value of the items purchased by the Prison Service, the European Union (EU) public procurement directives apply to both stationery and furniture and have been the subject of EU competition procedures, the latter of which was undertaken by the Inland Revenue as part of a collaborative venture. The Prison Service uses furniture manufactured by prisoners. As well as ensuring value for money, this policy has the added benefit of providing prisoners with purposeful activity, training and potentially qualifications that will help lead to employment on release. Where specific items of furniture cannot be manufactured in house, two contractors have been selected to provide such items from framework agreements awarded by Inland Revenue following an open competition. Contract prices are subject to rigorous reviews to ensure that products remain competitively priced throughout the life of the contract.

19 Dec 2005 : Column WA235

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