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Public contracts ban looms for blacklisted m&e firms

A Labour MP has secured a Parliamentary debate in which he will urge ministers to bar contractors embroiled in the construction blacklisting scandal from public works.

Michael Clapham, MP for Barnsley West and Penistone said the most enthusiastic contributors to the Consulting Association’s employee blacklist, which collected data on employee “trouble makers” including union activity, should not be considered for public procurement.

In Parliament last week, Harriet Harman leader of the Commons, said the Government would move to end the “scurrilous activity” of blacklisting.

But in an adjournment debate scheduled for 23 March, Mr Clapham will urge ministers from the Department of Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform to go further.

Mr Clapham, also a member of the Trade and Industry Parliamentary Select Committee, said: “It is a despicable activity that they are involved in, both in commissioning this information and providing it.

“I will be urging the ministers who are involved to think about the companies who they could be employing. Work in the future should be given to someone else.”

The Government had initially intended to make blacklisting illegal as part of the 1999 Employment Relations Act but the regulations where never introduced on the grounds that the Government believed that blacklisting no longer existed.

Mr Clapham welcomed Ms Harman’s initial response, saying it signalled a government desire to implement the regulations.

The Information Commissioner’s Office whose initial investigation implicated over 40 contractors in the use of the blacklist, has begun taking phone calls from employees who believe they are on the list – with a view to releasing the data.