HC Deb 14 July 1982 vol 27 cc1031-2
39. Mr. Cryer

asked the Minister for the Civil Service whether official discussions she proposes to hold with trade unions in the Civil Service will examine promotion systems.

Mr. Hayhoe

There has been no request from the trade unions for central discussions on promotion. My right hon. and noble Friend the Lord Privy Seal is always ready to discuss such questions if the trade unions so wish.

Mr. Cryer

Is the Minister aware that there is great resentment among the vast majority of civil servants who carry out the humdrum tasks in the operation of the Government machine at being held down to a paltry wage increase while senior civil servants in Whitehall not only receive an 18 per cent. increase but have their own promotion system whereby they promote themselves into the boardrooms of the major corporations on leaving the Civil Service? Is he aware that many people believe that this amounts to a form of corruption and that the sooner it stops the better, so that people can then see that our Civil Service is completely impartial?

Mr. Hayhoe

I believe that our Civil Service is impartial and I pay tribute to it once again. Its integrity compares exceptionally well with any other civil service in the world. I do not believe that the hon. Gentleman can speak on behalf of the Civil Service. Certainly the trade unions do not reflect the views that he expresses.

Dr. Hampson

Is my hon. Friend satisfied that management ability is given sufficient weight in promotions within the Civil Service.

Mr. Hayhoe

The whole impetus in recent months has been that management experience and ability should play a considerable part in determining promotion for senior civil servants.

Mr. Alan Williams

In the context of promotion systems and the good image and good management of the Civil Service, will the Minister confirm that, recently, instead of an internal promotion being made to the post of head of the Property Services Agency, the Government appointed a person lacking the Civil Service Commission certificate of qualification, although, according to the Government, the appointment of persons without that qualification should be extremely rare? Will he further confirm that instead of directly employing that person, the Government are paying a fee to a company set up by that person just before his appointment in which he and his wife are the only shareholders and which has no trading record? Has not the Treasury shown a serious lack of judgment in involving itself and its employee in what could be construed—wrongly, I hope—as an exercise in tax avoidance?

Mr. Hayhoe

I can confirm some of the details given by the right hon. Gentleman, as I believe that I gave them to him in a letter or my right hon. and noble Friend the Lord Privy Seal made them available. I do not believe that tax avoidance arises in the way that the right hon. Gentleman suggests. The individual concerned was appointed because my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment and others felt that he was the best man for the job.

Mr. Wrigglesworth

Can the Minister tell us what action the Government propose to take on the recommendations of the Megaw inquiry?

Mr. Hayhoe

No, I cannot, because the valuable report produced by that inquiry is now under consideration. As this is the first occasion on which it has been mentioned, however, I thank Sir John Megaw and all his colleagues for the speedy way in which they carried out their task and met the deadline given to them.