§ Mr. Devlin
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer by what amount the Civil Service will contract as a result of the Government's present privatisation programme.
§ Mr. Brooke
The privatisation programme has concentrated upon nationalised industries, rather than Civil Service activities, but some redistribution of Civil Service staff previously responsible for monitoring such nationalised industries has taken place. This has often been to meet priority demands such as preparing for further privatisations; and additional civil servants have also been required to staff the new regulatory bodies like Oftel—which covers all telecommunications operators (not only privatised British Telecom)—and Ofgas.
This process can be expected to continue, but decisions on privatising Civil Service activities are taken on their individual merits. There is no predetermined programme against which future manpower reductions can be forecast.
Since 1 April 1979, there has been a net saving of just over 300 posts through the privatisation of Civil Service activities, plus just under 19,000 royal ordnance factories and Ministry of Defence posts hived off in 1985 into Royal Ordnance Factories plc (which was subsequently privatised in 1987).