§ Mr. Murphy
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he has carried out a review of senior posts in the Northern Ireland Civil Service.
§ Mr. Prior
A review of senior posts, similar to that undertaken in the Home Civil Service, has taken place in the Northern Ireland Civil Service. The aim has been to see whether the work at the top of each Department could be organised more economically and flexibly with greater delegation of authority in order to secure the better use of a smaller number of top staff. The Northern Ireland review was carried out against the background of the steps already announced, and now implemented, to reduce the number of Northern Ireland Departments from eight to six.
It is planned to reduce the number of posts at undersecretary level and above from 56 in April 1979 to 46 in 1984. This represents a reduction of 18 per cent. which compares with the reduction of nearly 20 per cent. proposed for the home Civil Service. The Northern Ireland review did not take into account the possible impact on senior posts of the Northern Ireland Assembly or progress towards devolution.470W
The number and grading of senior posts in the Northern Ireland Civil Service will remain under close and continuing review. I am satisfied that the reductions made and proposed will be beneficial. They will reduce costs, check any tendency for business to be handled at a higher level than is necessary, and provide greater responsibility and more job satisfaction for officers of middle and junior rank.