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Material published relating to contracts awarded to ferry operators

30 January 2019

The Transport Committee publishes material relating to the contracts awarded to ferry operators by the Department for Transport to provide additional ferry capacity and services as part of contingency planning for a no-deal exit from the European Union.

The material published includes:

  • Two letters from the Committee Chair, Lilian Greenwood MP asking the Secretary of State, Chris Grayling MP, about the ferry contracts;
  • The response from the Secretary of State for Transport;
  • Two related written submissions to the Transport Committee's inquiry on Freight and Brexit, alleging the Government has acted illegally in awarding the contracts

Chair's Comment

The Chair of the Transport Select Committee, Lilian Greenwood MP, commented:

“The Government told the House of Commons that it was necessary to arrange these contracts using an emergency measure exemption to bypass the normal procurement process. The Secretary of State said there were ‘reasons of extreme urgency brought about by events unforeseeable by the contracting authority'.

Today we publish my correspondence with the Secretary of State requesting further explanation about why this was necessary and the processes it undertook to reach these decisions.

Shortly after the Secretary of State's announcement that the contracts had been awarded, the Transport Committee received two written submissions to our inquiry into Freight and Brexit, which alleged the Department acted illegally in securing these contracts without a full procurement process. The authors of the evidence raised significant concerns which led us to write again to the Secretary of State, asking him to respond to the allegations.

It seems extraordinary to me that the Government's response fails both to provide any additional insight into why the Department used emergency powers in the award of the contracts, and to respond to the substance of our questions about the Department's process for securing them. This was an opportunity for the Secretary of State to put the record straight.

This cursory reply is no way to respond to the Committee's efforts to scrutinise the Government's decision to use emergency powers to award contracts worth hundreds of millions of pounds. We made the Secretary of State aware that the Committee would make the exchange public and today, we publish this correspondence so that the questions we have raised and the Department's response can be open to public scrutiny.”

Further information

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