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General Efficiency

Volume 975: debated on Wednesday 5 December 1979

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asked the Minister for the Civil Service what measures the Government are taking to improve general efficiency in the Civil Service.

All Ministers are committed to the search for greater efficiency. Sir Derek Rayner is conducting the first of a series of selective studies in collaboration with Ministers. The pursuit and encouragement of general efficiency is an important part of the continuing work of my Department. An announcement about manpower savings will also be made shortly.

Does my hon. Friend intend to bring in any further outsiders to supplement the work that Sir Derek Rayner is doing?

We do not intend to do that at present. Sir Derek Rayner is doing a magnificent job, with a great deal of help from civil servants in various Departments. The work is going very satisfactorily.

Will the Minister indicate how efficiency in the Civil Service will be improved through his policy of reducing recruitment into the Civil Service, particularly of young people?

The number of people recruited into the Civil Service must depend upon the tasks it is asked to undertake. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will await my further statement on manpower savings for an answer to that detailed question.

Was my hon. Friend's attention drawn to the disturbing article in The Times 10 days ago describing the resistance within the Civil Service to two advanced computer programmes known by the acronyms CAPITOL and CAMELOT? Will the Minister take an early opportunity to talk to those concerned and point out that it is hopeless for the House and Government Departments to preach to the country the necessity for adopting modern technology if we do not do that ourselves?

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. I hope to have discussions with the unions soon on the question of new technology.

Following the last question, may I ask when the Minister intends to have discussions with the leaders of the Civil Service unions? The computer terminals have been connected, and the Civil Service unions need to be assured that jobs will not be lost on the scale that has been forecast. Will the Minister hasten the discussions?

The staff side proposals have been received, and we are considering them. I hope to have early discussions.