§ Mr. Evennett
asked the Prime Minister if she will make a further statement on the basis on which Mr. Peter Levene is being appointed to be Chief of Defence Procurement in the Ministry of Defence.
§ The Prime Minister
On 19 December last my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence announced the appointment, with my approval, of Mr. Peter Levene to be Chief of Defence Procurement in the Ministry of Defence.
At the time it was believed both by the Government and by the Civil Service Commissioners that Mr. Levene's appointment as Chief of Defence Procurement would be by way of secondment from an outside organisation and would thus fall outside the ambit of the Civil Service Order in Council 1982 and that the Civil Service Commissioners did not need to be asked to consider the issue of a certificate of qualification for Mr. Levene. This belief was based on practice and conventions of long standing.
Legal advice has recently been received to the effect that appointments by secondment do not fall outside the ambit of the Order in Council, and that the requirements of the Order in Council must be satisfied in relation to secondments as in relation to other appointments.
Measures are being taken to provide that future appointments to the Home Civil Service and to the Diplomatic Service which take the form of secondment from an outside organisation are made in compliance with the Civil Service Order in Council and any regulations made thereunder.
In relation to the case of Mr. Levene, who is regarded by the Ministry of Defence (as the Civil Service Commissioners have been told) as exceptionally well-qualified by ability and experience to carry out the functions of the Chief of Defence Procurement, the position is that his appointment was made and announced three months ago in the belief by all concerned that it fell outside the ambit of the Order in Council. The recent legal advice is that the belief was mistaken. In the meantime, on the basis of the public faith so pledged, both the Ministry of Defence and Mr. Levene have entered into 366W arrangements to enable the appointment to be put into effect, which it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to undo.
In these wholly exceptional circumstances the Civil Service Commissioners have reviewed the matter, and are satisfied that it is desirable that Mr. Levene's appointment should proceed without the issue of a certificate of qualification, under the provisions of article 1(2)(g) of the Order in Council.
Mr. Levene will now be appointed under a fixed term contract not exceeding five years, and not by secondment from an outside organisation.