§ 38. Mr. David Shaw
To ask the Minister for the Civil Service what plans the Government have to expand the numbers of political advisers employed in the civil service.
§ The Minister of State, Privy Council Office (Mr. Tim Renton)
The Government have no plans to increase the total number of special advisers. The appointment of a special adviser is a matter for each Minister in consultation with the Prime Minister as necessary.
§ Mr. Renton
My hon. Friend asks an extremely important question. I saw the comment by the hon. Member for Dagenham (Mr. Gould) about the setting up of special kitchen cabinets under a possible Labour Government. As the hon. Gentleman's hobbies are listed in Dod's as "eating, cooking and wine" I can see his interest in kitchen cabinets. It would be helpful to know who the Opposition would appoint to such kitchen cabinets. For example, would Derek Hatton be special adviser to the Department of the Environment and would Bruce Kent get a job with the Ministry of Defence?
§ Mr. Rees
The Minister answered the question about special advisers. What is the difference between a special adviser and a political adviser? What part does the Civil Service Commission play in determining their salary levels? Who are these special advisers and which part of the documents are they allowed to see? Should not the House be given more details about them under any Government?
§ Mr. Renton
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has already answered that question, and the right hon. Gentleman will find it in Hansard last week. In that answer, my right hon. Friend lists the names of all 39 specialist advisers, all but five of whom are political advisers, with those five being special advisers—[Interruption.] The right hon. Gentleman should wait a minute. Those five special advisers offer specific technical advice on subjects such as economics on which they are expert.
As the right hon. Gentleman will know from his wide experience, over the years the Labour party has tended to bring many so-called special advisers into local government. I hope that it would not dream of doing so in Whitehall.