HC Deb 06 March 1995 vol 256 cc14-5
33. Mr. Robathan

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what progress has been made in encouraging individuals with relevant outside experience to apply for senior positions in the civil service.

Mr. Horam

We have doubled the number of recruits in two years.

Mr. Robathan

I join others in welcoming my hon. Friend back to the Dispatch Box. I also welcome his response. I welcome, too, the programme of cross-fertilisation of quality as between the civil service and the private sector; but will my hon. Friend ensure that it does not undermine the morale and high quality of our excellent civil service?

Mr. Horam

I know that my hon. Friend is familiar with the Army. I have no more wish to undermine the morale and high quality of the civil service than I have to harm the Army. I assure my hon. Friend that we have that at the forefront of our minds when implementing the measures that we have adopted, which are in other respects very valuable.

Mr. McNamara

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that I sympathise with his predicament? Having started off with such high hopes in this House, as a Member sponsored by the Transport and General Workers Union, he ends up as a junior Minister in the most discredited Government of this century.

The Minister will be aware of the convention, in the run-up to a general election, that it is usual to consult the Opposition about certain senior appointments in the civil service. That convention has always been honoured. Should it not now, however, be applied when senior appointments of persons outside the civil service are being made—even though a general election may not be immediately imminent? In particular, should it not also be applied to the appointment of senior civil service commissioners?

Mr. Horam

We shall always consider reasonable requests. The hon. Gentleman knows that the composition of the senior appointments selection board is open and known. We would certainly take account of any reflections that he may have on it.