The big story of the last couple of weeks has been the Carillion collapse.

It has affected the running of schools, hospitals and other public services and left tens of thousands worried about their jobs and the security of pensions.

This story has opened up wider questions about the role of the private sector in the public services. Are the risks too high? Are some of the companies becoming too big to fail? Are we happy funding behaviour like late or underpayment of small companies?

I am not dogmatic about this. I do not share Labour’s unabashed enthusiasm for renationalisation, though I do have concerns around corporations putting shareholders before taxpayers.

But nor do I believe, like the Tories, that ‘the market’ is always better placed than government to deliver vital services.

We now have a ‘pass the buck’ mentality in Government which the public are quite rightly challenging, and it seems that the needle is about to swing the other way.

What can we do to fix the current issues?

I can’t answer all these questions in one column, but I’ll give you one thought. I believe that if an organisation, public or private, is funded by the taxpayer, then we deserve not just full transparency over how that money is spent, but also a cast iron assurance that the company should behave in a way we would expect: with integrity, and with the taxpayer in mind.

I’ll give you a concrete example. LearnDirect is an education provider that receives most of its funding from Government to deliver adult education and apprenticeships to 74,000 students. In a Public Accounts Committee hearing last week, I grilled them and the Government on why the quality of their apprenticeships declined to the point their funding will be terminated. I asked them why the Government did not intervene more proactively.

In an explosive exchange, we were told that LearnDirect had not only taken Ofsted to Judicial Review over their report (the judge sided with Ofsted), they also took out an injunction to gag the press and which was interpreted by Government to stop Ofsted, the Department of Education and the Education and Skills Funding Agency from discussing the matter.

This is outrageous behaviour. Could you imagine a school doing that? Didn’t the taxpayer deserve to know what was happening to an organisation spending their money?

I believe we need a clear code of conduct that any organisation, public or private, subcontracted or not, has to sign up to at the start of winning a contract. We should ensure that these companies ‘bid to deliver’ rather than ‘bid to win’, and they should also behave in a way taxpayers would consider ethical. Last week I called for this in Parliament. I hope you’ll back me.