HC Deb 25 January 1988 vol 126 cc16-7
63. Mr. Nicholas Bennett

To ask the Minister for the Civil Service whether there has been any recent increase in the number and range of courses provided by the Civil Service college; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Luce

The total volume of college provision remains fairly constant, but an increasing proportion of courses are run in support of recent initiatives to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of government.

Mr. Bennett

Does my right hon. Friend agree that one of the ways in which professionalism in the Civil Service could be improved is through the provision of external qualification courses? What opportunities are provided for civil servants at the staff college to receive those external qualifications?

Mr. Luce

My hon. Friend is right. The college has a high reputation for achieving results in external qualifications. Some 30 per cent. of college training is related to qualifications of professional and specialist bodies. As I have said, the results are very high indeed.

Mr. Winnick

What advice is given at the college to senior civil servants who find that the Cabinet Minister whom they are serving is being constantly undermined by hostile press stories coming from his own Cabinet colleagues, as is happening now with the Secretary of State for Social Services?

Mr. Luce

1 am not sure whether I follow the hon. Gentleman's question, but very often I do not follow him.

Mr. Soames

Although the courses provided by the Civil Service college are excellent, will my right hon. Friend consider taking en bloc courses for civil servants at other colleges so that they may have the opportunity to broaden their horizons in colleges outside the Civil Service environment?

Mr. Luce

My hon. Friend has an important point. It is worth noting that the college provides about 5 per cent. of the training of civil servants. About 75 per cent. is internal departmental training, and my hon. Friend will be interested to know that the remaining 20 per cent. comes from external providers. That is an important contribution to the standards of the Civil Service. In addition, many outsiders come in to lecture at the college, and sometimes even to participate.