A new UK Procurement Bill has been included in the Queen’s Speech – for the second time.
Prince Charles, standing in for the Queen, told Parliament public procurement would “simplified” in the bill, which was also mentioned in last year’s speech.
“Government will continue to seize the opportunities of the United Kingdom's departure from the European Union to support economic growth,” he said.
“Regulations on businesses will be repealed and reformed.
“A bill will enable law inherited from the European Union to be more easily amended. Public sector procurement will be simplified to provide new opportunities for small businesses.”
The bill is expected to be based on the government’s green paper Transforming Public Procurement and a consultation that took place last year.
In the government’s response to the consultation it said EU rules would be consolidated and multiple procurement procedures replaced with “three modern procedures”.
In December last year the government said it did not expect new regulations until 2023 “at the earliest”.
In notes accompaning the Queen’s Speech the government said: “Now that we no longer have to abide by bureaucratic EU rules and regulations, our intention is to create a simpler regime that works better for the UK, reducing costs and improving productivity.
“For example, by establishing a single digital platform for supplier registration, businesses will only have to submit their data once to qualify for any public sector procurement.”
The government said public sector buyers would have “more freedom and flexibility by allowing them to better negotiate with suppliers and to design the buying process to meet the needs of their specific procurement”.
The bill will also enable “smaller contracts to be restricted to UK suppliers, as permitted by World Trade Organization rules, and ensuring that procurement activities aid jobs and innovation”.
David Jinks, head of consumer research at couriers ParcelHero, responding to the Queen’s Speech, expressed concern about regulatory divergence from the EU.
“It is fine in principle that the new Brexit Freedoms Bill ‘will enable law inherited from the European Union to be more easily amended’,” he said.
“However, where that means significant divergence from EU law for products, packaging or online services, businesses will not want to have to meet two different sets of regulations.
“Nor do UK companies want to face a raft of new domestic sales and infrastructure requirements simply because this is now possible. This could end up in increasing costs, which would then be passed on as price rises for Britain’s beleaguered shoppers.”
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