I have been asked to reply.
The Civil Service is a non-political and professional career service, subject to a code of rules and disciplines. It is an express condition of that code that civil servants should discharge loyally the duties assigned to them by the Government of the day, whatever the political persuasion of that Government.
Pursuant to the Prime Minister's oral answer of 2 February, column 425, on the circumstances of Sir Leon Brittan's appointment, what is the House of Commons to think other than that Mr. Ingham and Mr. Powell have become so highly politicised that they connived at the Prime Minister's corrupt and—[Interruption.]
Order. The hon. Gentleman should resume his seat when I am on my feet. I do not care who else may have said that, but I ask the hon. Gentleman to withdraw that word.
Order. I have studied the Hansard of that exchange and it is my understanding that the former Prime Minister referred to the machinery at No. 10, not to the Prime Minister personally. I am asking the hon. Gentleman to withdraw the word "corrupt". I advise him that he will be taking time out of questions if he refuses to do so.
That was a long time acoming.
Whatever the hon. Gentleman's views, today's Civil Service is as impartial and professional as ever. If the hon. Gentleman wants any evidence of that, the Select Committee on the Treasury and Civil Service concluded in 1986 that it had received
No convincing evidence that the British Civil Service is being politicised.
A working party of the Royal Institute of Public Administration has also recently concluded:
There has not been an overt or systematic politicisation of the top ranks of the civil service.
I prefer their evidence to that of the hon. Gentleman.