Mr. Gareth Thomas
To ask the Secretary of State for Wales which local authorities in Wales will be involved in the Wales evaluation study to test the duty of best value; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Win Griffiths
I have received a report from the Best Value Project Group which I asked to evaluate the 26 proposals sent in by Welsh authorities. The Project Group concluded that 23 proposals had reached the stated quality threshold set out in its report and should be used to evaluate the impact of Best Value in Wales. There are 21 proposals from local authorities in Wales, one from a police authority, and one from a fire authority. The Project Group felt this would allow Best Value to be vigorously tested across the whole range of public services in Wales. I am happy to accept the Project Group's recommendations.
Three of the Welsh proposals have also been chosen to participate in the Best Value research programme commissioned by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions.
I am writing to all those who brought forward proposals and I will arrange for a list of those authorities accepted for both the Welsh and the English studies to be placed in the Library of the House.
The development of Best Value will help us deliver our Manifesto commitment to repeal Compulsory Competitive Tendering. Primary legislation will be required for this and the Government intends to introduce a Bill when Parliamentary business allows.
Ahead of this there is a need for a wide-ranging debate on Best Value involving local government, the private sector, trades unions and, most importantly, local people. I therefore propose to issue a consultation paper early in the New Year which will seek comments on this and other issues affecting local government in Wales.