Recruitment into administrative posts in the Civil Service is open to people from all disciplines and we seek through publicity and university visits to bring this fact to the attention of all potential recruits, including scientists and technologists. A total of 17 per cent. of successful candidates for administration trainee in 1984 had a scientific or technological background, compared to 11 per cent. in 1983.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for giving that information. While recognising the importance of attracting scientists and engineers into the administrative grades of the Civil Service, may I ask my hon. Friend to consider sympathetically the possibility of extending the unified grading approach to new entrants from the professions, as I am sure he will agree that that is the best and most effective initiative that we could take to attract such people into the Civil Service?
I certainly support the concept of extending unified grading, and discussions are occurring to extend it down to principal level. I hope that those discussions will be completed soon. I am sure that that extension will have an encouraging effect on the outlook of engineers, technologists and scientists in the Civil Service.
Is it not almost criminal that we are to recruit engineers and scientists into administration when it costs many thousands of pounds to train those specialists? Is the Minister aware that, recently, a Select Committee on which I served was advised of grave shortages of some of those scientists, such as the shortages to which reference was made this afternoon?
As one of the few chartered engineers in the House, I can say to the hon. Gentleman that I believe that people with such professional skills should be employed in the highest ranks of the Civil Service. Many of the matters with which the Civil Service deals and about which advice must be given to Ministers involves engineering, technological and scientific aspects. It is highly desirable that some of the people giving that advice should have been trained in those disciplines.