§ 15. Mr. Vaughan-Morgan
asked the Minister of Labour his policy for retaining older officers in the employment of his Department.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Watkinson)
The policy of my right hon. and learned Friend is that older officers who wish to stay should be retained as long as they remain fit and efficient and there is a real need for their services. In practice, most of the permanent staff retire between the ages of 60 and 65, but we have today in the Ministry more than 600 officers over 65 years of age, the majority of whom are temporary staff.
As a result of contraction and reorganisation of work, the staff of the Ministry has been reduced by about one-third in the last five years. In consequence, there have been some redundancies, and it has therefore been necessary to retire a certain number of older officers, including a number at the minimum pensionable age of 60, in order to avoid over-staffing.
I know the interest my hon. Friend takes in this matter and would assure him that what I have said does not represent any departure from the general aim of keeping all fit, efficient and willing officers as long as is practicable.
§ Mr. Vaughan-Morgan
Would not my hon. Friend agree that where an officer is anxious and willing to stay on after the 745 age of 60, it would be better to keep him on and, if necessary, to reduce the intake into the Civil Service?
§ Mr. Watkinson
I do not disagree with my hon. Friend on that point. But, to be fair to my own Ministry, I must say that we have entirely ceased recruiting to try to meet this difficulty. We are having only a very small number of cadets as direct university entrants and no other recruiting at all.
§ Mr. H. Hynd
When permanent staff are retained after the normal retiring age, what precautions are taken to avoid the retarding of promotion for the rest of the staff?
§ Mr. Watkinson
I am glad the hon. Member asked that question, because I hope I did not mislead the House by a supplementary answer I gave to the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) on a previous occasion; if I did, I apologise to the House. I said then that one of the reasons for retiring people of 60 was the bar to promotion. I am glad of the opportunity to make it plain to the House that that is not so, and that the policy of my Ministry is exactly as I have annunciated it in my answer this afternoon. I apologise to the House if I did mislead hon. Members on a previous occasion.