Administrative Grades (Recruitment)

Oral Answers to Questions — Civil Service – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th December 1984.

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Photo of Sir Sydney Chapman Sir Sydney Chapman , Chipping Barnet 12:00 am, 17th December 1984

asked the Minister for the Civil Service what initiatives he is taking to encourage scientists and engineers to be recruited, at least for limited periods, into the administrative grades of the Civil Service.

Photo of Mr Barney Hayhoe Mr Barney Hayhoe , Brentford and Isleworth

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.

Photo of Sir Sydney Chapman Sir Sydney Chapman , Chipping Barnet

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?

Photo of Mr Barney Hayhoe Mr Barney Hayhoe , Brentford and Isleworth

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.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Eastham Mr Kenneth Eastham , Manchester, Blackley

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?

Photo of Mr Barney Hayhoe Mr Barney Hayhoe , Brentford and Isleworth

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.