HC Deb 29 November 1972 vol 847 cc418-9
36. Mr. Arthur Lewis

asked the Minister for the Civil Service whether he will give, for 1st June, 1970, the total number of civil servants and their annual costs and similar details for the latest most convenient stated date.

Mr. Kenneth Baker

The number of civil servants at 1st June, 1970, was 700,750 and at 1st October, 1972, was 690,985. The provision for Civil Service salaries and wages in the Supply Estimates was £937 million in 1970–71; the current provision in the 1972–73 Estimates is £1,086 million.

Mr. Lewis

I shall be able to congratulate the Government and the Minister if he can assure me that this is comparing like with like. Is the hon. Gentleman aware that it is alleged that some of the 1971s have been transferred into other categories, and that therefore we are not comparing like with like? Can he assure me that if it were comparing like with like the figures which he has given would in fact apply?

Mr. Baker

No. The hon. Gentleman will appreciate, from Questions that I have answered earlier this year, that a certain number of civil servants have been hived off. He must also appreciate that some have been hived in. We have taken in a large number of civil servants who were formerly employees of local authorities. If the hon. Gentleman wants to play the numbers game, he must do better than that.

Mr. Rose

As the hon. Gentleman insists on giving us figures which are not seasonally adjusted, will he say how many additional civil servants will be needed to collect VAT in respect of professional fees which are paid from the State to recover 10 per cent. of those fees paid out by the State and bring them back to the State?

Mr. Baker

That question is really for my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but he has said that the increased number of civil servants required to introduce VAT is about 6,000. I hope, however, that the hon. Gentleman will bear in mind that if the House approves the Government's tax credit scheme there will be a saving of between 10,000 and 15,000 civil servants.

Mr. Rost

Can my hon. Friend say how many extra civil servants have to be used to deal with Questions tabled by the hon. Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Arthur Lewis)?

Mr. Baker

The hon. Member for West Ham, North is equivalent to about 15 clerical officers.

Mr. Sheldon

The answer to that question shows the application of my hon. Friend. Referring to the number of civil servants, is not the hon. Gentleman guilty of a little fiddle? Is not the figure that really matters that of non-industrial civil servants? Did not the Prime Minister mean, by his pledge, that he was going to reduce the number of non-industrial civil servants? Can the hon. Gentleman say just how those figures have changed in the last two-and-a-half years?

Mr. Baker

The distinction between industrial and non-industrial civil servants—and I am not making a party point—is a very fine one in many jobs. For example, Ministers' drivers are industrial civil servants, which seems absurd. [Interruption.] Junior Ministers do not have drivers. Since 1970 we have consistently looked at the whole size of the Civil Service, industrial and non-industrial.