HC Deb 09 May 1988 vol 133 cc17-8
67. Mr. Thurnham

To ask the Minister for the Civil Service what proposals for reorganisation in his Department he is making following the recommendations of the Efficiency Unit report, "Improving Management in Government: The Next Steps."

Mr. Luce

Like other Ministers, I am reviewing the functions of my Department to see what areas might be appropriate for agency status. I have already identified the Civil Service college and the occupational Health Service as promising candidates for closer examination.

Mr. Thurnham

I welcome that positive lead. May I ask my right hon. Friend to stir his ministerial colleagues to share his sense of urgency in making those much needed reforms?

Mr. Luce

In fairness to some of my colleagues, as my hon. Friend will know, we have already identified 12 possible candidates for the creation of agencies in other Government Departments. Some of my right hon. Friends are looking urgently at the practical implications of that, and I hope to have something further to say before the summer is over.

Mr. Winnick

Have any steps been taken to reorganise the post of chief press officer to the Prime Minister and to change the manner in which he goes out of his way to give warnings to the press and the media generally on what they should or should not publish and broadcast? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that Mr. Ingham is increasingly seen as the Deputy Prime Minister?

Mr. Luce

That is principally a matter for my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, but there is no shadow of doubt about the outstanding calibre of Mr. Ingham and the job that he does.

Mr. Beaumont-Dark

Does my right hon. Friend agree that one of the problems of improving management in government is that for some vital skills industry can pay far higher salaries than the Government—for example, computer and tax experts? Are the Government urgently considering the fact that, to be efficient, they must be able to compete with private enterprise, or they will not get the best people whom they so urgently need?

Mr. Luce

My hon. Friend puts a finger on a problem that we face. As he rightly says, there is a disparity in certain specialist skills between what the Government can pay and what can be achieved in the private sector. It is partly for that reason that we are losing a number of people. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has judged it right to introduce more flexible allowances and pay to deal with that problem. Pay additions are now available for certain jobs, and that is one way in which we can help to contain the problem.

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