Very private bids;Diary

14th May 1999 at 01:00
PRIVATISATION sends a shiver down the spine of many in education - the chill wind of market forces raises goosebumps upon bumps and then there's the spectre of fat cats and their unscrupulous practices.

Reassuring, then, to discover a key clause in the contract for running Hackney's ailing school improvement service: bribing Department for Education and Employment officials is strictly forbidden.

"The contractor shall not offer or give or agree to give any person in Her Majesty's Services any gift or consideration of any kind as an inducement or reward for doing or for having done any act," it says in a section helpfully entitled "Corrupt Gifts and Payments of Commission". The hearts of free-marketeers everywhere sink instantly.

Mind you, we may never know if any such misdemeanours happen. David Blunkett seems to have imposed a news blackout - his letters to council leaders have been confidential, the contract bans Hackney from publicising the work of the contractors. And the successful firm will have to sign the Official Secrets Act.

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