Laura Sharman 22 January 2014

MPs support public ownership of services

MPs support public ownership of services image

The public should be given ownership of services before they are outsourced or privatised, a new bill is proposing.

The Private Members' Bill, which has cross-party support, would make public ownership the default option for local and national services, giving people more say before services are contracted out. It also hopes to make private companies running public services more accountable and transparent.

Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion who is leading the bill, said: ‘Increasingly we’re seeing different ways public ownership can deliver high-quality, cost-efficient services The publicly owned East Coast line, for example, delivered over £200m back to the taxpayer last year. Councils are starting to bring services back in house, because it’s more cost-efficient.’

The bill is based on work by We Own It, and is supported by Labour MPs Katy Clark, John McDonnell and Grahame Morris, Liberal Democrat MP John Leech and Rt Hon Elfyn Llwyd MP from Plaid Cymru.

Research by We Own It last year revealed that 60% of the public support public ownership being a default option before services are contracted out, with 79% saying the public should be consulted before any service is outsourced.

The bill proposes:

• Make public ownership the default option before any services, national or local, are contracted out to the private sector

• Require there to be a realistic and thorough in-house bid whenever a service is put out to tender

• Ensure there is full consideration of public opinion before any service is privatised or outsourced

• Give the public a right to recall private companies running public services poorly

• Require private companies running public services to be transparent about their performance and financial data (as in the public sector)

• Make private companies running public services subject to Freedom of Information requests (as in the public sector)

• Give social enterprises and mutuals, as well as public sector organisations, priority in tendering processes



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