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The now well documented Procurement Bill 2022 underwent its second reading in the House of Lords on Wednesday 25th May leading to a healthy debate on the proposed reforms, highlighting both those areas generally welcomed by the House, together with those that may need further refinement.
The Procurement Bill underwent its first reading in Parliament on 11th May, representing a culmination of nearly 2 years of policy development in line with the UK’s transition out of the EU at the end of December 2020. The Green Paper “Transforming Public Procurement” was published on 15th December with the consultation closing in March 2021 and the Government publishing its summary of the 619 responses received nearly a year later, on 6th December 2021.
It is fair to say there are some differences between the proposals set out within the Green Paper and those reflected within the draft Bill; however, the vision underpinning the Government’s post-Brexit reforms remains throughout, to secure quicker and more simplified public procurement focused on value for money, greater innovation and the creation of more opportunities for smaller businesses.
Firstly, the style and language of the Bill is noticeably different, moving away from the terminology reflected within the EU Directives to text which is arguably more familiar to the domestic market. Furthermore, much of the detail has been relegated to schedules which now supplement their related operative provisions – it remains to be seen whether this will achieve the aim of “simplification” of the rules. The Bill is now also designed to apply across the UK.
Secondly, there are some high-level changes (although this list is by no means exhaustive) which will clearly have an impact across the board:
The Bill is long, some 122 pages, and still has a long journey ahead of it, with a rite of passage through the House of Lords and then the House of Commons before it secures Royal Assent. Current estimates are that we will not see a new Act until 2023 at the earliest, following which the Government intends to allow a 6-month transition period to allow the market to prepare for implementation.
However, the second reading may well provide some insight into some key areas for further debate. Transparency, although a fundamental tenet of the Green Paper, has not made it into the explicit “procurement objectives” set out within the Bill (although the principle does currently appear in Regulation 18 of PCR 2015). There is also a perception that the UK Government is “missing a trick” in not putting the environment, climate change, genocide and modern slavery at the forefront of issues to be expressly tackled under the Bill. Similarly social value is not referenced and there is a call to rectify this going forward. Greater measures are requested to protect SME’s/the supply chain, such as more effective measures to ensure the enforcement of prompt payment initiatives. These are to name but a few areas – whether they are addressed within subsequent drafts remains yet to be seen.
The Public Procurement team at TLT will keep you abreast of any changes through regular updates, insights and webinars, as the Bill progresses through Parliament. However, in the meantime, do not hesitate to contact us if you have any initial questions or would like to discuss any key aspects of the Bill.
This publication is intended for general guidance and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at May 2022. Specific advice should be sought for specific cases. For more information see our terms & conditions.
30 May 2022