HC Deb 02 July 1984 vol 63 cc13-4
29. Mr. Leigh

asked the Lord Privy Seal what has been the increase in Civil Service staff in the Privy Council Office handling the traditional functions of the office since 1954.

Mr. Biffen

The number of senior officials, namely five, is the same as in 1954. There has been a reduction in the number of support staff from 28 to 22 over the past 30 years.

Mr. Leigh

Has my right hon. Friend had an opportunity to read the diaries of Sir Charles Greville, which show that when he retired as Clerk to the Privy Council in 1860, 29 people were employed there. They have increased by 6 per cent., while in the same period the numbers employed at the Home Office have increased from 39 to 36,446 — an increase of 93,351 per cent? Does my right hon. Friend agree that that shows that the taxpayers are given value for money in at least one Department of State, because it is not increasing its functions unduly, and does he further agree that some credit should go to successive Clerks to the Privy Council?

Mr. Biffen

Yes. In Whitehall terms, that is an illustration of Schumacher's point that "Small is Beautiful".