The UK Procurement Bill will make public purchasing “safe and ethical”, Lords were told.
Baroness Lucy Neville-Rolfe, a Cabinet Office minister, highlighted the National Procurement Policy Statement, the Procurement Review Unit, and the debarment list contained in the bill.
“All these measures will make public procurement safe and ethical and take into account wider factors,” she said during the bill’s third reading in the House of Lords.
“These reforms are intended to provide a shift towards a modern and flexible procurement regime and deliver better outcomes for taxpayers, service users and the businesses and social enterprises involved.”
However, she disclosed that Scotland will not be subject to the bill because procurement is a devolved issue.
The National Procurement Policy Statement is a set of strategic objectives buyers should follow, such as social value. The Procurement Review Unit will focus on systemic or institutional breaches of regulations, while the debarment list provides wider powers to ban companies from contracts.
Neville-Rolfe said the bill contained provisions to “require contracting authorities to think about SMEs routinely”.
“We have also put provisions in the bill for the new single central online platform, which will underpin the new system and achieve a real step change in transparency.”
She said the Scottish Government had not joined the bill and would be “maintaining their own legislation”.
“Contracting authorities in Scotland will therefore not be bound by the bill other than to enable their use of frameworks, dynamic markets and joint procurement.
“They are operating their own regulations, having transposed the EU directives into their own statute book.”
In June SNP trade minister Ivan McKee said the bill would “undermine devolution” and it was “deeply disappointing” the Scottish Government had not been consulted before it was presented in the House of Lords.
McKee wrote to Jacob Rees-Mogg, then UK minister of state for Brexit opportunities and government efficiency, saying: “I hope you might recognise that adopting a different approach to engagement and to drafting important legislation like this that respects and provides for devolved competences might lead to a different outcome with regard to recommendations relating to consent.”
The bill now passes to the House of Commons.
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