HC Deb 05 December 1988 vol 143 c18
58. Mr. French

To ask the Minister for the Civil Service if he will make a statement on the progress towards establishing agencies within the Civil Service.

Mr. Luce

With permission, Mr. Speaker, I shall answer this question and question 56 together.

Mr. Speaker

Order. The right hon. Gentleman cannot do that. We have already passed question 56.

Mr. Luce

I am sorry, Mr. Speaker. I will answer question 58 alone.

Two agencies have been set up, about 30 more have been announced and more are in the pipeline, 1 shall be making a progress report to the House before too long.

Mr. French

Does my right hon. Friend accept that the agency system will greatly improve the managerial abilities of civil servants, but only if adequate provision is made for management training? Will he tell the House what provisions he has in mind?

Mr. Luce

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. One of the main purposes of the establishment of the agencies is to devolve decision-making down the line of management in the Civil Service, and to give managers in the Civil Service greater authority and enable them to take more decisions themselves. It is essential that we should have proper training policies to enable them to become even better managers. To that end I have earmarked an additional £1 million, which will be used as a form of challenge funding with Departments to stimulate better training.

Mr. Madden

Will the Minister take action to ensure that the agencies do not place contracts with the Economic League—the jobs blacklisting organisation? Will he ensure that they do not place security contracts with the Securicor group or Group 4 Total Security Limited, which have had Government contracts for many years and subscribe to the Economic League?

Mr. Luce

The important point is that members of the agencies will be members of the Civil Service, under the direct control and overall responsibility of the Secretary of State, with delegated responsibility to the chief executive. Broadly speaking, the standards maintained by the Civil Service and the Departments will be maintained by the agencies.