HC Deb 15 July 1964 vol 698 cc1193-5
32. Mr. Boyden

asked the Secretary of State for Defence by what date he expects the extra staff, appointed to effect reductions in staff, to show results.

34. Mr. Fernyhough

asked the Secretary of State for Defence why the number of senior officers and their supporting staff in the present Ministry of Defence has increased when compared with the numbers employed in the separate Services before amalgamation.

72. Sir A. V. Harvey

asked the Secretary of State for Defence how the strength of his Department on 1st April, 1965, is expected to compare with that on 1st April, 1964, at Headquarters and, as regards non-industrial civilian staff, at out-stations.

Mr. Thorneycroft

The number of staff in my Ministry will be less on 1st April, 1965, than they were when it was inaugurated on 1st April, 1964. This reduction is being achieved in spite of substantial new commitments, an increased burden on operational staff and continuing work on major schemes of reorganisation. A sizeable reduction in non-industrial civilian staff at out-stations is also being achieved. It is almost impossible to centralise any large organisation without some increase in senior staff.

Mr. Boyden

Did not the Select Committee on Estimates draw attention to a substantial increase of very senior staffs? Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that there has not been empire building at the top, as often happens in these circumstances?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I am, as always, extremely grateful to the Estimates Committee of this House. I find its reports very helpful. I think any Minister does who is trying to economise in staff, but I would point out that it examined my headquarters within weeks or months of its being formed, and I have since then been able to take certain action which ensures that Professor Parkinson is removed from the establishment.

Mr. Fernyhough

In one part of his Answer the Secretary of State said it would be less in May, 1965, and in another part that a reduction would be substantial. That does not convey anything to us unless we have the figures. First of all, would he give them to us? Secondly, does he not realise that if the ending of the oldest demarcation dispute in the world only means very slight savings it is not a very good thing to put out to the trade unions what demarcation disputes in industry really cost?

Mr. Thorneycroft

There will be a reduction of about 300 in the headquarters staff. This is despite a very substantial increase of staff coming in for work on Polaris and the like. There is also a reduction of about 800 or 1,000 on out stations. Considering the amount of work on reorganisation, the very heavy burden of operations at the present time and the fact that we are just getting going with the Polaris programme, this is a creditable start on these affairs.

Sir A. V. Harvey

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the information which he has just given the House will be received with considerable satisfaction, particularly as this has happened within a few months of the integration of the three Services? Will he keep up the good work?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I am most grateful to my hon. Friend.

Mr. Healey

We are all happy that it is expected that the numbers of staff will be less next April than last April, but will the right hon. Gentleman' say whether the number of staff next April will be smaller than the number of separate staffs doing the same job before the new Ministry was created, which is the real issue at stake?

Mr. Thorneycroft

Yes, Sir. I am starting from the point where there was the sum total of all the staffs brought together from the old Ministry of Defence and the three Service Ministries, and there will be a cut in that.