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Civil Service (Management)

Volume 886: debated on Wednesday 19 February 1975

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asked the Prime Minister whether he will make a statement on the management of the Civil Service in the context of the report "Civil Servants and Change" and the Civil Service National Whitley Council's joint statement on it.

As I told the House on 30th April last year, civil servants must be fairly treated and there should be no discrimination against the public service as compared with other sectors. The Civil Service as a work force is entitled to the same sort of concern and consideration as any other employees. I therefore welcome and endorse the report "Civil Servants and Change" and the joint statement on it by the Civil Service National Whitley Council, which is reproduced below.The report, which has been prepared by the Civil Service Department with the full co-operation of the National Staff Side, points out that changes in society, in the work of Government and in its organisation have all had marked effects on the Civil Service. These effects claim the attention of the management of the service and are a reminder to Government and Parliament of our ultimate responsibility for civil servants as employees.As the joint statement indicates, each Department is formulating a programme of follow-up action for discussion with its departmental staff side to meet the particular problems that it faces. Ministers in charge of Departments will be giving their full support to getting results from these programmes. The Government have a duty to maintain a position as a good employer, and I am aware that this has implications for resources, including human resources, so that the Civil Service can play its full and essential part in the operation of a fair and orderly society.JOINT STATEMENT BY THE NATIONAL WHITLEY COUNCIL ON THE WIDER ISSUES REVIEW REPORT

The report "Civil Servants and Change", which is now being published, is an important and welcome analysis of the major problems of the Civil Service, and what needs to be done about them. The Service is an integral part of society and is affected, like any other large organisation, by social changes. It depends on the people who work for it. They must be seen not only as the means through which Ministers govern, but also as a work force, requiring the same sort of concern and consideration as any other employees.
2. The report indicates that the confidence and effectiveness of the Service depend very much on Ministers, and on how far they can give practical recognition to their responsibilities as employers in the exercise of their wider responsibilities as Government. Otherwise there is a risk of imposing greater burdens and stresses on the Service than it can in practice bear. It also indicates that the Civil Service Trade Unions too have an essential rĂ´le, in representing their members' interests, and seeking the greatest measures of co-operation between the management and the staff in accordance with the aims of the Whitley system.
3. Not least, however, as the report says, it will require a great effort on the part of the management of the Service, at all levels, to adapt it fast enough to meet the challenge of fast-moving and more demanding times. With this in view, each Department is now formulating for discussion with its Departmental Staff Side a programme of action to follow up this report, and their programmes should provide both a basis for and an example of better staff relations, better internal communications and better management. And at the centre the Civil Service Department must seek to ensure by the provision of resources and in other ways that the Service as a whole can continue to adapt to the needs of society, and can keep up the momentum of change.
4. Some of the required changes are already under way. A new National Pay Agreement has been concluded, which updates in the light of experience and changing economic circumstances the well-established principles for determining Civil Service pay by fair comparison. A National Agreement has been reached on facilities for non-industrial Civil Service trade union representatives; allowances have been improved; an office improvement programme has been launched; in the welfare field, voluntary health screening is being widened; improvements in personnel management are being consolidated and extended. Although much still remains to be done, Civil Service conditions are being progressively developed in these and other ways not just for their own sake, but to enable every civil servant to make his full contribution to both the ideal and the reality of an effective and responsive public service.