HC Deb 26 February 1996 vol 272 cc573-4
7. Mr. Miller

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the privatisation of the Recruitment and Assessment Services Agency. [15243]

Mr. Willetts

The privatisation of the Recruitment and Assessment Services Agency is proceeding as announced. I expect the sale to be completed in the summer.

Mr. Miller

In the wake of Nolan and now Scott, are not the Government taking actions that will undermine the neutrality of our civil service?

Mr. Willetts

That is complete nonsense. The selection of civil servants will still be in the hands of civil servants and, as now, the procedures will be regulated by the independent civil service commissioners. That is another example of a successful privatisation combined with stringent regulation. It is a great pity that, after 16 years, the Opposition still do not understand the basic argument for privatisation.

Mr. Bill Walker

Does my hon. Friend think that, if the Opposition are concerned about the civil service's neutrality, they may be leaning towards new Labour rather than old Labour? We know that old Labour is still what runs the Labour party.

Mr. Willetts

I do not recognise the terms old Labour or new Labour. We know what the Labour party stands for and we remain opposed to it.