HC Deb 07 March 1988 vol 129 cc17-8
75. Mr. Dalyell

To ask the Minister for the Civil Service what proposals he has, in the light of the new proposed regime for the Civil Service, to afford protection to those civil servants who allege that they have been misused by Ministers.

Mr. Luce

Throughout the Civil Service, procedures to deal with complaints about personal matters will continue to exist.

Mr. Dalyell

In an age when many Conservatives sadly acknowledge that Mr. Bernard Ingham has become the most important man in British politics, who can tell a well-loved Leader of the House that he has become semidetached and then that he will be sacked, is it not important that an ex-civil servant such as Miss Colette Bowe and a civil servant such as Mr. John Mogg should be able to go to an outside body to air their grievances, rather than having to place their accounts of events such as Westland in a bank vault?

Mr. Luce

The hon. Gentleman does not seem to have taken account of the guidelines issued on 2 December 1987 concerning the duties and responsibilities of civil servants in relation to Ministers. They provide for new procedures, allowing a civil servant to appeal — in cases of conscience and other matters—first to his senior, then to the permanent secretary and, if necessary, to the Head of the Civil Service. Those procedures, which are totally new, are ideal for the Civil Service and provide a perfectly reasonable outlet.

Mr. Stokes

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the real problem is not so much the misuse of civil servants by Ministers, as the misuse of procedure by the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell), with his tedious and repetitive questions, of which we are all sick and tired?

Mr. Luce

As always. I can agree with my hon. Friend. The hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) seems to have an obsession. Experience shows that there has been an extremely good relationship between this Government and the Civil Service.

Mr. Tony Banks

Has Mr. Bernard Ingham ever complained about being misused by Ministers, or is he happy doing the Prime Minister's dirty work?

Mr. Luce

I cannot think why the hon. Gentleman is so obsessed with Mr. Ingham, who does an extremely good job.