§ Chris Ruane
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what assessment she has made of the impact of the system of retention on smaller construction companies; and if she plans to change the system of retention; 
(2) what estimate she has made of the amount of retentions held back in the construction industry in each of the last 10 years; 
(3) which local authorities operate a retention system in their building programmes. 
§ Mr. Wilson
[holding answer 30 January 2002]: The Government do not collect data on the use of retentions by construction clients or suppliers. Retentions are a common contractual agreement between the parties resulting from decades of adversarial relationships between the players in the industry. We are taking a range of steps to address the root causes of the distrust. Through the Rethinking Construction initiative, run in partnership by Government and the construction industry, we have developed and disseminated policies that promote a culture change in the 292W industry and across clients. These are based on partnering and long-term relationships between the parties where they co-operate to maximise efficiency and benefits, and to drive waste out of the project.