HC Deb 10 June 1991 vol 192 cc598-9
42. Mr. Jessel

To ask the Minister for the Civil Service how he proposes to further encourage applications for the civil service fast stream from non-Oxbridge and polytechnic graduates.

Mr. Renton

It is the Government's policy to encourage the widest possible spread of applications for the fast stream. In 1990, applications were received from more than 90 degree-awarding institutions other than Oxbridge.

Mr. Jessel

Can my right hon. Friend project the trend and say what proportion of the fast stream this year are likely to be non-Oxbridge?

Mr. Renton

No, I cannot do that because the first round of interviews is taking place now at colleges and polytechnics. In 1985, 42 per cent. came from Oxbridge, in 1989 the figure was 36 per cent., and last year it was 34 per cent.

Dr. Marek

The Minister is very good at giving platitudes to the House and being rude to my hon. Friends. I give him a chance to answer a question straightforwardly and, at the same time, to increase the percentage of the time that he spends on civil service matters. If only a third of successful applicants to the fast stream come from outside Oxbridge, that is unsatisfactory. Will the Minister meet representatives of the civil service trade unions to thrash out a generally agreed programme of action to correct the clear injustice being done to applicants from outside Oxbridge? I suspect that the same request also applies to question No. 43.

Mr. Renton

The hon. Gentleman accuses me of exchanging platitudes. In fact, I was exchanging statistics, but I do not think that he listened. I said that in 1990 only one third-34 per cent.—of fast-stream entrants came from Oxbridge, as opposed to 42 per cent. in 1985. So it is one third, not two thirds, so perhaps he will listen more attentively. I am always prepared to meet representatives of the civil service. If they want to discuss a matter, I should be glad to meet them. The trend of broadening the range of colleges and polytechnics from which fast stream applicants are welcomed is working satisfactorily.