HC Deb 17 February 1972 vol 831 cc600-1
9. Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles

asked the Minister of State for Defence what plans he has for reduction of paper work within the Army.

Mr. G. Johnson Smith

A wide-ranging examination has been conducted by the Army into ways of reducing the administrative load on units. The number of administrative returns required from major units located in the existing Southern Command should be reduced by 40 per cent. by April, 1972. The process is being extended to other Army units in the United Kingdom and similar action will follow in overseas theatres.

Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles

Is my hon. Friend aware that that answer will be very welcome? Does he realise that the White Paper shows that eight civil servants are required to administer every nine men in uniform? Can he give the House some hope that that ratio will be adjusted by these new arrangements?

Mr. Johnson Smith

I am glad that my hon. and gallant Friend is pleased with that answer and I hope that he will be equally pleased with my reply to his supplementary question. If he studies the matter more closely—and I know that he gives close attention to defence matters—he will understand that many of those who may come into the category of "civil servant" in the Ministry of Defence are industrial workers in the factories providing valuable support for the armed services.

Mr. Dalyell

What about paper work in the Navy?

Mr. Johnson Smith

I beg the hon. Member's pardon. I did not catch his question.

Mr. Speaker

It was, "What about paper work in the Navy?"

Mr. Johnson Smith

My hon. Friend who is responsible for the Navy is sitting close to me. I am sure that he upholds the tradition of the Navy for due economy. It has a Fleet works study and management service organisation which operates at all levels in the naval administrative structure.