No, Sir, but all Ministers in charge of Departments have been, and are, reviewing their functions and tasks together with the appropriate organisation and staffing required. These reviews contribute to the planned reduction of the Civil Service to 630,000 by April 1984. The Government intend to publish a White Paper describing the work that is being done.
As this review concerns what many people would consider to be the most overpaid, over-protected and under-productive group of workers in this country, paid for out of the pockets of industrial workers hit by recession, will my hon. Friend take advantage of any contemplated industrial action to prove that in certain departments a skeleton staff can do just as efficient a job as the current staff?
I do not accept my hon. Friend's description of the Civil Service. Discussions are in progress with the Civil Service unions about this year's pay settlement and future arrangements for determining the pay of non-industrial civil servants. It is deplorable that there should be talk of industrial action which would disrupt important public services when the Government have indicated their positive response, their intentions for future arrangements for settling pay, a subject to which I know civil servants attach considerable importance. There has been a responsible approach and I do not think that there is any justification for industrial action.
The hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) says "Not enough". Will the Minister bear in mind that, as a result of the cuts needy families—on the admission of the Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Security—are not receiving the family income supplement to which they are entitled, and that at a time of peak and rising unemployment the Manpower Services Commission is considering closing down jobs centres or cutting back on the manning of those centres? Is it not time for the Government to admit what we all know in the House—namely, that the Government's manpower cuts are being achieved only at the cost of seriously damaging the quality of essential services?
I repudiate the charge that essential services are being damaged. It is right that the Government should seek to make the Civil Service more efficient and reduce some of the tasks that our predecessors laid upon it. We have succeeded in reducing the numbers by a net 37,000. That is a good achievement and we have further progress to make in the coming years.
Departments are constantly considering the appropriate staffing and organisation to carry out their functions. They are reviewing the functions laid upon them by Parliament and in other ways to ensure that necessary tasks are being carried out.