Shadow civil society minister withdraws amendments to public services bill

Bill has now progressed to House of Lords after passing its third reading in the Commons

Gareth Thomas
Gareth Thomas

The amendments to the Public Services (Social Value) Bill  introduced by Gareth Thomas, the shadow minister for civil society, have been withdrawn to prevent the bill being held up.

The bill, which would require public sector commissioners to consider an organisation’s social value when procuring services, progressed to the House of Lords after passing its third reading in the House of Commons on Friday.

Thomas withdrew his amendments, which were introduced to try to strengthen the social value elements of the bill and to reinstate clauses removed at committee stage by Nick Hurd, the Minister for Civil Society.

The clauses that Thomas wanted reinstated would have required government bodies to have a social enterprise strategy, and would have extended the social value requirement to cover goods as well as services.

Thomas also proposed adding a new requirement for the secretary of state to publish an annual report on the government’s strategy for social enterprises.

The private members’ bill was introduced by Chris White, the Conservative MP for Warwick and Leamington.

Lord Richard Newby, the Liberal Democrat peer and chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Enterprise, will lead the bill through the House of Lords, starting today.

The umbrella body Social Enterprise UK had written to Thomas asking him to withdraw the amendments because they could derail the bill.

Peter Holbrook, the chief executive of Social Enterprise UK, said in a statement that the bill had cross-party support but the government must ensure it got the parliamentary time it needed to become law.

"It’s a critically important piece of legislation which, if passed, would help bring about social and economic recovery and connect public spending with the real needs of communities at a time when Britain is in the financial doldrums," he said.

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