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Wednesday, 16 January, 2002, 17:37 GMT
Tube plan 'must be good value'
Tube train
Stephen Byers will make the final Tube decision
The Transport Secretary has commissioned a report to show whether partial privatisation offers better value to taxpayers than keeping London Underground's operation wholly in the public sector.

Stephen Byers told MPs on Wednesday that the private public partnership (PPP) bids received earlier in January would be compared with Mayor Ken Livingstone's proposed bond scheme to raise 13 billion for improvements.

He insisted that the plan offering the best value would be adopted.

Mr Byers added that it would be himself, not the Treasury, which is seen as the driving force behind PPP, which would make the final decision on the issue.

'Value for money'

An announcement is expected in March.

Mr Byers' comments were made to the Commons Transport Select Committee.

He said: "I think it wouldn't have been a proper consultation if all we had been comparing the PPP to was the traditional methods (of funding).

"There will also be a comparison on value for money terms between PPP and the bond option."

Mr Byers added: "The important thing is that we get real value for money.

"I will take the value-for-money decision on behalf of the government.

"It will be my decision."

'Evaluate bids'

But Greater London Authority say the "public sector comparator" test would be worthless unless carried out by the independent National Audit Office.

A spokesperson for the authority said: "If the government was genuine about properly evaluating the value for money of the PPP bids, it would call in the National Audit Office to make the analysis.

"Both Bob Kiley (London Transport Commissioner) and Ken Livingston have proposed this on a number of occasions.

"We have not seen any evidence that these bids represent value for money."

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See also:

30 Jul 01 | UK
Mayor loses Tube challenge
29 Mar 01 | UK Politics
MPs demand Tube statement
28 Feb 01 | UK Politics
Tories deny U-turn over Tube sale
13 Dec 00 | UK Politics
Prescott's Tube plan 'fatally flawed'
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