§ Ms Lawrence
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement about National Savings. 
§ Mrs. Liddell
National Savings, which has a key role in helping to fund the Government's borrowing requirements as efficiently as possible, has been carrying out a wide ranging programme to modernise the organisation against a background of a fast-moving and highly competitive retail savings market. This has included the evaluation of a public-private partnership for back office services delivery. After detailed consideration and discussion with those involved, I have today given National Savings Board the authority to proceed to the Invitation To Negotiate stage in the process. From a list of four companies who responded to the Information Memorandum, the two companies who have been shortlisted to the next stage are Siemens and EDS.
I do not expect to make a decision as to whether to conclude a public-private partnership, and if so with which bidder, until some time later in the year. My decision will be based on value for money and will also bear closely in mind the best interests of customers and of National Savings staff.