HC Deb 20 March 1989 vol 149 cc729-30
54. Mr. Soames

To ask the Minister for the Civil Service if he will make a statement on morale in the Civil Service.

Mr. Luce

Like other employers, the Government attach great importance to ensuring that the levels of morale are maintained and improved.

Mr. Soames

Is my right hon. Friend aware that morale in Civil Service offices in my constituency is extremely high, particularly in the DSS, because the civil servants do an exceptionally good job? Does my right hon. Friend agree that we are now moving towards a time when regional pay would make an enormous difference to the performance of civil servants and Government agencies? Will my right hon. Friend see what he can do to achieve that laudable aim as quickly as he can?

Mr. Luce

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for paying a tribute to the work of the DSS in Crawley. I include also the excellent work done by the 900 or so staff in the office of my right hon. Friend the Paymaster General. It is now very much the consistent policy of the Government, in terms of flexible pay, pay additions, performance bonuses and so on, to take into account the requirements of a particular area or a particular skill that may be in short supply. I agree with my hon. Friend that that policy should do a lot to help recruitment and retention in the Civil Service.

Dr. Marek

Is the Minister aware that one of the ways in which morale could be improved is to put into operation the recommendations in the consultation paper "Service to the Public"? That paper clearly implies extra staffing in social security offices, especially in London. What representations will he make to the relevant Secretary of State?

Mr. Luce

I am glad that the hon. Gentleman referred to the paper about the quality of services. It was placed in the Library of the House of Commons. Everything has been done under our training schemes to encourage civil servants to provide the best quality service, given the resources that they have. I am certainly glad that, in that paper, there are signs of the kind of job that is being done by a number of Ministries to improve the quality of their services. Staff numbers are for my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State.

Mr. Holt

Does my right hon. Friend agree that performance often goes with morale? In that case, the morale of DSS officers in Blackpool must be at an all-time low. Performance in relation to the general public is abysmal. Is it not time that a management audit was carried out to ensure that attendance and mobility allowance departments are given a thorough shaking, up from top to bottom?

Mr. Luce

I am concerned to hear what my hon. Friend says. I will certainly draw that point to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Security so that he can give my hon. Friend a full reply.