HC Deb 07 November 1979 vol 973 cc400-2
71. Mr. Cryer

asked the Minister for the Civil Service what representations he has received regarding the limitations placed on retiring civil servants joining the boards of companies with which they have been dealing.

Mr. Channon

None, Sir.

Mr. Cryer

Does the Minister accept that there is considerable concern, of which there are many examples, about the way in which senior civil servants—permanent secretaries, deputy secretaries and so forth—have under Governments of both parties been able to move sweetly from the Civil Service into lush jobs in private enterprise? Does he not agree that senior civil servants retire on lush pensions, that the least they can do is stay retired, and that, especially when handling contracts worth millions of pounds or handling huge quantities of money, they should not, as is possible, pave their way when in the Civil Service, either in the Ministry of Defence or the Department of Industry, into the board rooms?

Mr. Channon

The last Government reviewed the rules relating to business appointments and provided that whenever a civil servant within two years of leaving the service proposed to go to a firm with which he had special relationships or extensive contractual dealings, certain procedures had to be followed. Those rules were laid down by the previous Government. I have received no evidence which would lead me to believe that they should not be tried further before any change is made.

Mr. Alexander W. Lyon

Why is it that business men who continually complain about the incompetence of civil servants are so anxious to recruit them when they leave the Civil Service, unless it is to buy information which they could not otherwise get?

Mr. Channon

I think that that suggestion is reprehensible. If the hon. Member is suggesting that there is any evidence of impropriety in the present practice, I might point out that the rules were laid down by his own Government, when I believe he was still in office, and that we have had no reason to change our minds about them.