Oral Answers to Questions — Duchy of Lancaster – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th February 1997.
To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when he intends to meet unions representing civil servants to discuss job security. 
I recently met civil service union representatives and job security was one of the issues that was raised.
I am sure that it was, given that the Government's policy has, over the years, meant contracting out, privatisation, the fragmentation of the civil service and a huge loss of morale. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, over the past five years, 70,000 permanent civil service jobs have gone and been replaced by only 7,500 temporary jobs, which do not have performance-related pay, sick pay, pension rights or any sort of security? Is it any wonder that the trade unions put the matter on the top of their agenda? Is it not time that the Government accepted that, if they are to restore morale in the civil service, they must address job security?
The "Competing for Quality" initiative in the public sector has been a tremendous success. I note that the Labour party would effectively cease its operation. The initiative has brought savings to the taxpayer of some 20 per cent., on average, in the services tested, which is equivalent to at least £200 million per annum. The total saved must be fast approaching £1 billion in terms of recurrent savings. Casual employees form about 5 per cent. of the civil service. I do not believe that the hon. Gentleman can draw any conclusions about the destabilising effect of that. We believe that civil servants should build careers in the public sector with confidence. I pay tribute to the civil servants who serve our country so well.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that the unemployment rate in Mid-Staffordshire is 3.7 per cent., that in the new parliamentary constituency of Lichfield, it is only 3.4 per cent., and that some of those people work in the civil service? Does he agree that the last thing that we want for job security, whether in the civil service or the private sector, is the introduction of the social chapter?
I entirely agree with my hon. Friend about the implications of the social chapter. The House may be interested to learn that there were 38,100 departures from the civil service in 1995–96 but that only 3,400 were compulsory redundancies, a very small proportion of the total. With the economy in such a vibrant mood and with unemployment falling, I hope that many, or all, of them will by now have found jobs.