HC Deb 25 June 1980 vol 987 cc473-5
67. Mr. Chapman

asked the Minister for the Civil Service what is the latest figure of the total numbers of industrial and non-industrial civil servants, how this compares with 12 months before; and what is his estimate of the figure 12 months hence.

The Minister of State, Civil Service Department (Mr. Paul Channon)

At 1 April 1979 there were 732,000 staff in post. Of these 565,800 were non-industrials and 166,500 industrials. At 1 April 1980 the corresponding figures were 705,100, 547,700 and 157,400. As a result of the Government's action to reduce the size of the Civil Service, I expect the total to be well under 700,000 by the end of this financial year.

Mr. Chapman

May I first congratulate my right hon. Friend on becoming a Privy Councillor? I hope that that business goes in strictly alphabetical order. So far as the planned reduction of the total number of civil servants to 630,000 by 1984 is concerned, given the annual turnover of people retiring and those voluntarily leaving non-Civil Service jobs, cannot that figure easily be obtained by recruiting three people for every four who leave? There is, therefore, no need for any forced redundancies.

Mr. Channon

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his kind remarks. Concerning the reduction of staff to 630,000 by May 1984, we are certainly not looking for compulsory redundancies. I think that there will be very few of them. I certainly hope so. My hon. Friend is right to point out that there will be a large number of people leaving through natural wastage. Therefore, I hope that we shall be able to achieve our objective largely through voluntary redundancies.

Mr. James Hamilton

Does the right hon. Gentleman take pride in the fact that he is further increasing the number of people unemployed? Will he tell me how such people will obtain alternative employment and thereby reduce the unemployment figures, which are catastrophic and a disgrace both to the country and to the Government?

Mr. Channon

I am not increasing the unemployment figures. As I said a moment ago—[Interruption.] I hope that the House will allow me to give—

Mr. Heffer

If the right hon. Gentleman does not understand that he understands nothing.

Mr. Channon

I should like to be allowed to answer the question. I am not increasing the unemployment figures. As I said to my hon. Friend, the vacancies will occur through natural wastage and large numbers of people retiring. I understand the point about school leavers and recruitment opportunities. Surely the House recognises that the way to resolve the country's economic problem is not by creating artificial jobs in the public sector but by trying to expand the private sector and encouraging the productive sector of the community.

Mr. Bagier

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that a large and important section of the work force in his Department are the humble ladies who do a darned good job cleaning up Civil Service establishments? Is the policy of the Government to do away with these ladies, take them off the payroll and hand over the gravy to the so-called private enterprise cleaning agencies?

Mr. Channon

Our policy on cleaners is that Departments are asked to use the most economical form of cleaning. The practice will vary from one Department to another.