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New minister Dowden defends outsourcing and lavishes praise on blacklisting firm

NEW BOY Oliver Dowden used his first appearance at the despatch box yesterday to insist there is “nothing wrong” with outsourcing giants fleecing the public purse.

Mr Dowden, who was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Cabinet Office this week, praised troubled blacklisting construction firm Carillion for its “positive” performance during Commons question time.

Labour frontbencher Jon Trickett grilled the minister on the government’s continued reliance on the firm despite its recent financial turbulence.

“Despite being under investigation by the Financial Conduct Authority and reportedly having debts of £1.5 billion, the massive outsourcing company Carillion remains a major supplier in terms of government procurement,” he said.

“If it were to collapse, it would risk massive damage to a range of public services.”

Mr Dowden said the government had “of course” made “contingency plans for all eventualities.”

Mr Trickett then blasted the “industrial scale” on which ministers “have been outsourcing public services to large outsourcing companies.”

He asked: “When these massive outsourcing companies fail, as too often they do, does the minister really think it is fair that the costs stay with the taxpayer, while the profits are creamed off by the shareholders?”

Mr Dowden then defensively replied: “I do not think there is anything wrong with profit. Profit is a reward for investment made by businesses.”

Speaking to the Star after the debate, Mr Trickett said: “Theresa May has simply rearranged the deckchairs with her front-bench reshuffle. Nothing has really changed.

“It is an insult to the British public suffering from austerity for the new minister to praise the profiteering of public contractors.”

Carillion was one of a raft of building giants exposed for its role in blacklisting union activists after a 2009 government raid.


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