Consultants in pounds 258m sell-offs 'bonanza'

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The Independent Online
THE Government has spent at least pounds 258m on consultants' advice on privatisation since coming to power in 1979, according to figures published yesterday by a Labour MP.

Alan Milburn, MP for Darlington, branded the sum 'a lucrative bonanza for consultants'.

He compiled the figure from answers given to parliamentary questions put to each government department but said it could be just the tip of the iceberg as some departments would not give details - because to do so would cost too much.

His claim comes less than a week after a damning report from the Efficiency Unit accused civil servants of wasting at least pounds 65m a year on fees to outside consultants.

Of the figures available, the Department of Transport was the biggest spender, paying pounds 107m to consultants. Trade and Industry spent pounds 67.6m, Environment pounds 26m, the Scottish Office pounds 20m, the Treasury pounds 15.3m and the Northern Ireland Office pounds 13.4m.

The biggest consultancy contract for an individual privatisation programme was pounds 28.8m for advice on the sale of 12 regional electricity companies, Mr Milburn said.