HC Deb 28 January 1981 vol 997 cc922-4
54. Mr. Marlow

asked the Minister for the Civil Service if, wherever he gives figures for changes in the size of the Civil Service, he will at the same time state the job equivalents which have been taken on by the private sector and the cost to public funds of having the work so done.

56. Mr. John Evans

asked the Minister for the Civil Service how many Civil Service jobs, in both the industrial and the non-industrial sectors, have been turned over to the private sector since May 1979; and at what cost.

The Minister of State, Civil Service Department (Mr. Barney Hayhoe)

Quarterly reports about Civil Service manpower are made to the Treasury and Civil Service Select Committee. Work is transferred to the private sector only when it is commensurate with sound management and good value for money for the taxpayer.

Mr. Marlow

Amongst the burdens being borne by our industry at the moment are the size and cost of the Civil Service. When my hon. Friend has good news on cutbacks within the Civil Service in terms of numbers, will he also let us know the net saving in costs as near as he possibly can in each case?

Mr. Hayhoe

My predecessor undertook to give details to the Select Committee when work was transferred to the private sector, and said that the returns would be made available to the Select Committee. I assure my hon. Friend that that will be done. The best estimate that I can make is that less than one-tenth of 1 per cent. of the reductions in the Civil Service to date have arisen as a result of such transfers.

Mr. Alan Williams

May I congratulate the Minister on his new appointment and on his wisdom in adopting so cryptic a fellow Welshman as his PPS? Will the hon. Gentleman confirm that privatisation in this sector has not been as successful as Conservative Party dogma would seem to require? Is it not true that in Bath a firm of contract cleaners has taken the Government to the cleaners by using different names for the same people as a method of evading national insurance contributions and income tax? Will he tell the House what investigations are in hand? Do these investigations cover the possibility that similar contracts will also be covering similar activities? May we know how soon the hon. Gentleman hopes to have the results of these investigations? Will he ensure that the results are reported to the House?

Mr. Hayhoe

The whole of the right hon. Gentleman's supplementary question was really directed towards one of my colleagues at the Ministry of Defence, which is responsible for those matters. When I was a Minister at the Ministry of Defence I investigated carefully a number of cases that I invited the unions to give to me in which they thought that the criteria that I have outlined again today were not being met. I considered the information with great care. There was no doubt that there were savings to public funds arising from the proposed transfer to private contractors of some cleaning work.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

May I, too, pay tribute to my hon. Friend on his new appointment? Will he accept that over two-thirds of the additional unemployment that has taken place since the Government came to office has come from the manufacturing sector rather than from the Civil Service? Does he accept that this is placing an unfair burden upon our reduced manufacturing sector? Is he aware that he must pay more attention to reducing the size of the Civil Service if there is to be a meaningful manufacturing sector in future?

Mr. Hayhoe

My hon. Friend should not under-represent the achievements to date, which will reduce the size of the Civil Service to its lowest level since 1974. The objective set by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister of 630,000 by 1 April 1984 would reduce the size of the Civil Service to the lowest level since the end of the Second World War.