Civil Service

Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 21st February 1989.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , Linlithgow 12:00 am, 21st February 1989

To ask the Prime Minister what arrangements exist to ensure that the Civil Service is not politicised in circumstances where a single party has been in power for a decade or more.

Photo of Mr John Wakeham Mr John Wakeham , Colchester South and Maldon

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.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , Linlithgow

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.]

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Order. The hon. Gentleman must withdraw the word "corrupt".

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , Linlithgow

I borrow the word of the former Conservative Prime Minister.

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

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.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , Linlithgow

Is there one rule for Back Benchers and another for former Prime Ministers?—[Interruption.]

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

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.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , Linlithgow

The last thing that I want to do is to get thrown out of the House of Commons. However, in view of column 657 on 27 January 1986, could we say specifically the Prime Minister's "misbehaviour"? Did they connive at that?

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Order. Will the hon. Gentleman please withdraw the word "corrupt"?

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , Linlithgow

Is is an important day for the House and the last thing—[HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."] Mr. Speaker asked me to withdraw; I will.

Photo of Mr John Wakeham Mr John Wakeham , Colchester South and Maldon

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.