HC Deb 30 July 1997 vol 299 cc323-4
4. Mrs. Gorman

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what plans he has to review the method of recruitment of civil servants. [9709]

The Parliamentary Secretary, Office of Public Service (Mr. Peter Kilfoyle)

I have no such plans.

Mrs. Gorman

Will the hon. Gentleman confirm that among the many achievements of the previous Government was the reduction by 35 per cent. in the number of civil servants by natural wastage? Will he also confirm that the Government's plan to break up the United Kingdom and establish new Assemblies and Parliaments all over the place will inevitably lead to an increase in the number of civil servants—100 more for the Welsh Assembly and 500 more for the Scottish Parliament? Will he tell British taxpayers that those recruits will be obtained by closing the Scottish and Welsh Offices in London because they will not be needed any more?

Mr. Kilfoyle

I can assure the hon. Lady that there are no plans to have other than a unified civil service, that there are no plans afoot either to shed members of the various Departments—

Mrs. Gorman

They have to be shed.

Mr. Kilfoyle

The hon. Lady has to make up her mind whether she wants people to be sacked or retained to make the kind of contribution that we would expect them to make, as the majority of civil servants do. The hon. Lady referred to the previous Government. She knows that they managed to transfer 388,000 civil servants to agencies. We are concerned to maintain a professional civil service that is recruited on the basis of fair and open competition. That will apply to the recruitment of civil servants in the future, as it has in the past.

Mr. Rhodri Morgan

One civil servant, the Cabinet Secretary, is to retire at the end of this year. Will the Government look closely at the best methods of recruiting a new Cabinet Secretary, whether it be by the use of headhunters, by advertising or by the traditional method of appointing from within the civil service?

Mr. Kilfoyle

The recruitment of the new Cabinet Secretary is a matter for the civil service and the Prime Minister. We have no objection to using headhunters to advise us, in addition to open advertisements for jobs.

Mr. Hogg

With reference to the question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Billericay (Mrs. Gorman), may I put it to the hon. Gentleman that he should have calculated how many civil servants will be retained in the Scottish Office as now is, and how many will be transferred to the departments that will be responsible to the Scottish Parliament? My hon. Friend would like to know what the numbers will be both ways. Surely the House is entitled to an answer.

Mr. Kilfoyle

The House will get the answer at the appropriate time when the calculations have been made.