HC Deb 19 January 1983 vol 35 cc328-9
46. Mr. Eggar

asked the Minister for the Civil Service what role the Management and Personnel Office is playing in assisting other Departments in preparing responses to the White Paper on efficiency and effectiveness in the Civil Service.

Mr. Hayhoe

As explained in the White Paper, the Management and Personnel Office is directing the financial management initiative jointly with the Treasury. MPO staff are fully involved in the joint steering machinery, which has issued guidance to Departments and which will examine the responses. The MPO is also helping Departments directly through the joint MPO/Treasury financial management unit, and has directed the 1982 review of running costs, the report of which will be available shortly.

Mr. Eggar

In the direct assistance that the financial management unit is giving to Departments, can my hon. Friend confirm that special importance is attached to ensuring that Departments have proper management information and accounting systems? Is that not much more important than the rest of the financial management initiative?

Mr. Hayhoe

I agree with my hon. Friend about the importance of the two matters to which he referred. I also welcome the constructive comments and encouragement in my hon. Friend's recent Bow group memoranda, which dealt with many of those matters.

Mr. Stoddart

Is the Minister aware that the real test of efficiency and effectiveness is what the public think about a service and the effect of that service on the public? Is he aware that, for example in my constituency, staff at the DHSS office has been reduced by three while the work load has increased by 50 per cent., thus hurting many people, especially claimants, in Swindon? Will he try to ensure that the Civil Service is effective at the point of use?

Mr. Hayhoe

As I explained in answer to an earlier question, the details of DHSS offices are clearly a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services. I do not agree that one should exclude cost effectiveness and value for taxpayers' money from considerations of efficiency in the Civil Service.

Mr. Alan Williams

When replying to the White Paper, will the hon. Gentleman, as a Treasury Minister, outline how many of the savings claimed by Treasury Note 5 to the Select Committee have been lost to the Government in the form of tax that is no longer collected, national insurance contributions that are no longer collected, unemployment benefit that is paid to those who have been left in the dole queue instead of being recruited to fill the vacancies, and payments that are made to contractors who are carrying out the work that was previously done by civil servants? Is it not true that the net saving to the Government is a minute fraction of that which the Government claim?

Mr. Hayhoe

I repudiate that statement. The reduction in civil servants has meant a net saving to the Government of about £½ billion a year on the pay bill, which is a substantial sum. Although extra expenditure is involved in some privatisation arrangements, overall the entire exercise has been good value for the taxpayer.