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Working Conditions (Report)

Volume 890: debated on Monday 14 April 1975

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asked the Minister for the Civil Service what arrangements have been made for monitoring the implementation of the recently published Wider Issues Report on the conditions in which civil servants are obliged to work.

Each Department is preparing a follow-up programme and consulting its departmental staff side not only on the substantive problems and how they are to be tackled but on how progress is to be maintained and monitored. My Department is co-ordinating progress. The most recent and important step forward is the agreement recently concluded with national staff side on the cleaning of Government offices, which provides a basis for better standards of cleaning work and thereby improves the environment in which civil servants are obliged to work.

Is my hon. Friend aware that there is dissatisfaction among public servants behind counters at the way in which they are treated? If the public is to get the service and civility it deserves, does he not agree that there must be an improvement in morale in the public service?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. It is essential that the public should receive efficient and civil service from public servants who work behind the counters at Government Department offices. Equally, the public at large is aware of the abuses, assaults and physical injuries sustained by many civil servants in carrying out their duties in the recent past. I hope members of the public will do their best collectively to bring this situation to an early end.

Will my hon. Friend say what progress has been made in discussions over the extension of flexible hours of attendance in the Civil Service?

My hon. Friend has highlighted an important development in the Government staff side relationship The extension of flexible working hours of attendance is proceeding, and negotiations are being carried out with the national staff side. As of December 1974, 80,000 civil servants were covered by agreements relating to flexible hours of attendance.