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Negotiations were carried out by the previous Government over the 18 months before the order was laid, which, as I understand it, exhaustively explored all the options. I met the Council of Civil Service Unions before the election and immediately after. I have had several meetings with the council-at least two, I think-since, and I am proposing to meet the chairman later this week. There is a continual process of discussion and dialogue, which I regard as very important. I do not want the measure to be unilaterally imposed; I want a genuine consensual arrangement, whereby all six civil service unions agree to a new, sustainable and long-term scheme.
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