HC Deb 27 October 1982 vol 29 cc1037-8
41. Mr. Eggar

asked the Minister for the Civil Service what progress has been made during the parliamentary recess on the introduction of management information and accounting systems in Departments of State.

Mr. Hayhoe

Progress continues along the lines described in the White Paper, "Efficiency and Effectiveness in the Civil Service", which sets all Departments clear objectives for the development of management systems and commits the Treasury and the Management and Personnel Office to publish a progress report by next July. Departments and the Treasury/MPO unit of civil servants and management consultants described in the White Paper have been pressing ahead with this work, some of which was described in written answers given to my hon. Friend on 28 July.

Mr. Eggar

Is my hon. Friend aware that the publication of the White Paper was extremely welcome? Will he go a little further than he has been able up to now and give an undertaking that all the findings will be published in full once the review has been completed in July? Furthermore, is my hon. Friend convinced that MINIS will enable Ministers to select between the differing priorities facing them?

Mr. Hayhoe

My hon. Friend will recall that paragraph 30 of the White Paper makes it clear that Departments should disclose as much as possible of the information that they derive from the management systems. The Treasury and the MPO will look at that question specifically in the report that they make next July.

Mr. Foster

Is it not well acknowledged that the way to make any large organisation efficient is to decentralise it? Is that not a strong argument for devolving most of the decision-making to the regions? Will the Minister bear that in mind and send some more jobs to the Northern region?

Mr. Hayhoe

I can only admire the hon. Gentleman's ingenuity in posing to this question a supplementary question that is relevant to the last question.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

Does my hon. Friend agree that Members of Parliament are as important to individual constituencies as Departments of State? Therefore, does he not agree that Parliament should sanction the purchasing by hon. Members of computers and other information systems, to enable them to do their job and to monitor the work of the House in constituency cases in the same way as Departments of State?

Mr. Hayhoe

That question is largely for my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House, who will have heard it asked.

Mr. Alan Williams

Desirable as greater efficiency is, is not the effectiveness of officials dependent upon their ability to obtain decisions from their Ministers? Are not the Ministers' officials who are currently negotiating with the trade unions on the Megaw report hamstrung because up to now they have been unable to get decisions from the Government on how to respond to the report?

Mr. Hayhoe

The right hon. Gentleman is wrong on two clear counts. First, questions about Civil Service pay are for the Treasury and they would be for another occasion. Secondly, what he says about the Government in relation to the Megaw report is wrong.