§ Mr. Gordon Prentice
To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the merits of recruiting from the private sector to fill vacancies at permanent secretary level. 
§ Mr. Leslie
Like any organisation, the civil service benefits from people coming in at all levels. Since the beginning of 1999 well over half of the vacancies at permanent secretary level have gone to open competition and a number of external appointments have been made.
It takes an outstanding individual to come in at the very top of any organisation without previous experience of that sector. There is, however, an increased use of open competition at other levels in the senior civil service, which should broaden the future field of permanent secretary candidates. Last year 202 SCS posts were advertised, and almost two-thirds were won by candidates from outside the civil service.