HC Deb 01 December 1982 vol 33 cc263-4
55. Mr. Eggar

asked the Minister for the Civil Service to what extent, in formulating the financial management initiative, he took into account the Minis system developed in the Department of the Environment.

Mr. Hayhoe

Very fully indeed. The working document with which the initiative was launched referred to Minis as one of the departmental reviews that had pointed the way. The Government expect Departments to establish management systems that include the ground covered by Minis.

Mr. Eggar

Will my hon. Friend confirm that it will be necessary for all Departments when replying to the FMI to adopt the form and degree of detail of the information displayed in the Minis format in the Department of the Environment?

Mr. Hayhoe

The recent White Paper made it clear that all Departments had to respond to the FMI by early next year. The Management and Personnel Office and the Treasury will be reporting to the House.

Mr. Alan Williams

Are not many of the savings that the Government claim achieved at the expense of efficiency? Is the breakdown of DHSS services, such as that in Birmingham, with a reduced staff facing an extra 80,000 claims, not just the tip of the iceberg? Are not frustrated and overstretched officers throughout the country facing rapidly increasing work loads while the Government pursue their shibboleth of arbitrary staff cuts regardless of work load and the effect on the quality of services to the most needy in our society?

Mr. Hayhoe

That is not a reasonable statement of the position. The numbers are being reduced from the 732,000 when we came to office to 630,000 by 1 April 1984. We are down to 655,000 and are on target to achieve the reduction. Adjustments are being made to the numbers of civil servants to take account of different work loads. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will join me in deploring the call for a one-day strike in the DHSS and regretting the action, which will hurt the general public.

Mr. Williams

Is not the action the result of sheer frustration, to which the Government have responded inadequately by offering temporary replacements of staff, who will take three months to train, to deal with a long-term increase in work?

Mr. Hayhoe

The right hon. Gentleman is badly informed. The NEC of the CPSA, one of the main unions involved, on 17 November recommended a full return to work on the basis of proposals made to the Government. I have the union circular here. The right hon. Gentleman should join me in regretting that the work force did not respond to the call from the union executive and deploring action that will hurt the general public.

Mr. Nelson

As the Ministry of Defence employs far more civil servants than any other Government Department, has not the Minis system more applicability and potential benefit there than in any other sector? Has the system been introduced there, and if not, why not?

Mr. Hayhoe

The Ministry of Defence already has elaborate management control systems. Although Minis is relevant, I do not necessarily believe that transplanting it from the Department of the Environment to the Ministry of Defence would be appropriate. The reports coming forward will come to the House next year and will fully set out what has been done in all Departments.