Manpower Costs

Oral Answers to Questions — Civil Service – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 25th June 1980.

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Photo of Mr Tony Marlow Mr Tony Marlow , Northampton North 12:00 am, 25th June 1980

asked the Minister for the Civil Service what is his estimate of the cash savings to be made annually in reducing the Civil Service from 700,000 to 630,000; and what will be the additional cost of paying the private sector for work which will still need to be done but will not be done, after the reduction, by the Civil Service.

Photo of Mr Paul Channon Mr Paul Channon , Southend West

Detailed plans of the Departments' savings have yet to be settled, but the gross savings could be £500 million a year at current prices by 1984. It is too early to say how much this will be offset by the cost of work put out to the private sector.

Photo of Mr Tony Marlow Mr Tony Marlow , Northampton North

As I am sure that my right hon. Friend would never, under any circumstances, wish to mislead the public, may I ask him, when he gives figures in future about the reduction in the size of the Civil Service, to say, at the same time, what, if any, additional costs have been incurred by putting out work to the private sector?

Photo of Mr Paul Channon Mr Paul Channon , Southend West

Yes, I have no wish to mislead the public. Plans are being drawn up in detail in every Department. When they have been drawn up in full I shall be able to give a full picture to my hon. Friend.

Mr. J. Enoch Powell:

Would that represent a reduction in the gross national product?

Photo of Mr Paul Channon Mr Paul Channon , Southend West

The right hon. Gentleman is a better economist than I am. I leave that matter to him.

Photo of Mr Thomas Benyon Mr Thomas Benyon , Abingdon

May I tell my right hon. Friend that, though we are all at one with him in our efforts to save money, I am sure that we would be wrong to discriminate against civil servants? I believe we have done that by using them as a whipping boy for all the problems of society and by what I consider to be the gross inequity of denying to civil servants and members of the Armed Forces those tax reliefs obtained by other United Kingdom residents on overseas service. Civil servants are currently denied these reliefs and I believe that that is monstrously unfair.

Photo of Mr Paul Channon Mr Paul Channon , Southend West

I entirely agree with the first half of my hon. Friends question. As to the second half, that is a matter for my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He is well aware of the problem but I will draw it to his attention again.

Photo of Mr Ian Wrigglesworth Mr Ian Wrigglesworth , Teesside Thornaby

As the Minister's Department is responsible for open government, and for the provision of as much information as possible to the House and to the public, will he try to get his hon. Friends who are responsible for bringing in this army of civilian mercenaries to do Civil Service jobs to publish the facts and figures about them so that we may all see what savings, if any, are being achieved?

Photo of Mr Paul Channon Mr Paul Channon , Southend West

I think that the hon. Gentleman, uncharacteristically, exaggerates the situation. There is no question of an army of civilian mercenaries. A small percentage of the savings in the Civil Service will result from work going out to the private sector.

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Wandsworth Battersea North

What is the national gain in paying these people to do nothing rather than paying them to do some work?

Photo of Mr Paul Channon Mr Paul Channon , Southend West

As I explained to the House a moment ago, the savings in the Civil Service will be achieved largely as a result of people retiring or leaving the service, anyway. During the next three years it is estimated that almost 250,000 people will leave the service in the normal way.