HC Deb 01 December 1982 vol 33 cc264-6
58. Mr. Parry

asked the Minister for the Civil Service what matters he plans to discuss at the next meeting with the Civil Service unions.

59. Mr. Canavan

asked the Minister for the Civil Service what subjects he expects to discuss at his next meeting with representatives of the trade unions in the Civil Service.

Mr. Hayhoe

Plans for my next meeting with the Civil Service unions have not yet been made.

Mr. Parry

When the Minister next meets the unions will he assure them that in the next wage bargaining lower paid civil servants will not suffer the same shabby treatment as that meted out to the Health Service workers?

Mr. Hayhoe

I do not believe that the Health Service workers have been treated shabbily, so I can give no such assurance.

Mr. Canavan

Will the Minister discuss the possibility of giving civil servants greater freedom of speech? For example, would it not have been to great public advantage had we known earlier the views of Mr. Andrew Britton, the former under-secretary at the Treasury, who yesterday stated that the Government's monetarist policies had done virtually nothing for the economy's underlying problems and accused them of persisting with an economic strategy that had no firm intellectual base?

Mr. Hayhoe

I regard that as a partial precis of what Mr. Britton said yesterday. At any rate, it is a long-established custom that civil servants should not indulge in controversial comments about Government policies of the day. I suspect that if that were allowed to happen, under any Government, the whole quality of government and, indeed, the position of this House would be prejudiced.

Mr. Jeffrey Thomas

In view of recent events. is the Minister satisfied with the personal vetting arrangements for civil servants? When he next meets the unions, will he have discussions with them about the matter?

Mr. Hayhoe

As the hon. and learned Gentleman knows, matters of this kind are the subject of a review by the Security Commission. I do not think that it is for me to comment today.

Mr. Dykes

Is my hon. Friend aware that officers and members of the IPCS are worried about terms for obliging people to take early retirement and the contradiction that exists for those who wish to carry on?

Mr. Hayhoe

There are difficulties within the Civil Service for those civil servants who would like to continue serving after the age of 60 when they have no right as such. Those personal requirements are necessarily in conflict sometimes with wider managerial considerations and taking into the Civil Service people who would otherwise not have jobs.