Thursday, 23 January 2014

Scale and Pace

Matthew Taylor writes: 

A cross-party group of MPs is backing a campaign to give people more control over the privatisation of public services.
The group will launch a private member's bill on Wednesday that would make public ownership the default option, give people a say over whether services are privatised and ensure private companies running services are more accountable.

Caroline Lucas, the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, is leading on the bill, which would cover a range of services, including the NHS, public transport, and local services such as schools and libraries.

"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."

Although the bill is unlikely to be passed, campaigners say it reflects growing public concern about the scale and pace of privatisation.

Plaid Cymru MP Elfyn Llwyd, who is supporting the bill, said: "Public opinion is strongly on the side of this bill, and so is the evidence. Public ownership needs to be the default option, outsourcing companies must be held to account and privatisation shouldn't go ahead unless the public supports it."

The bill is also backed by Liberal Democrat and Labour MPs and based on work by We Own It, a campaign group which aims to promote public ownership, and give consumers a stronger voice.

Cat Hobbs, the director of We Own It, said the latest polling showed the overwhelming majority of the population supported the measures set out in the bill.

"Public ownership is popular, and people are sick of the endless stream of selloffs and outsourcing deals," she said.

"This bill would give all of us a real say over what happens to our public services. Privatisation has failed and now we need openness, transparency and accountability. All parties need to get behind the public service users bill and stand up for the rights of ordinary people, not dodgy outsourcing giants."

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