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Would it not have been useful, though, if we actually had the number so that we could have a properly informed debate, rather than allegation, counter-allegation and, almost, smear?
Ministers were also asked how much public expenditure the imposed scheme would save-my right hon. Friend Tessa Jowell on the Front Bench raised the issue again today-but that information has not been forthcoming. The Secretary of State has said that the amount is impossible to calculate. I have been there; I have advised decision makers-and in the private sector it is exactly the same-and when one is entering a redundancy situation, one does a rough, or even a back-of-an-envelope, calculation of the numbers one is looking to lose, the amounts, the average rates of pay, the distribution of the rates of pay across the service, and therefore roughly what the cost would be. That is not too much to ask before we make a momentous decision on this legislation. In fact, the Public Accounts Committee raised the issue again in July, and the Minister refused to respond.
I deal now with the myth of the highly paid civil service. Some people have already mentioned the subject today, but it is important that we get the point on the record. Even though this has been denied today, it has been part of the Government's strategy to promulgate the myth of a highly paid civil service.
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