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Staff Side (Meetings)

Volume 979: debated on Wednesday 20 February 1980

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asked the Minister for the Civil Service when he expects next to meet the national staff side of the Whitley Council.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer that I gave today to the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw).

In view of the speculation about further cuts in public expenditure and Civil Service manpower, will the Minister explain, the next time he meets the national staff side of the Whitley Council, when further cuts are to be made and when a definitive announcement will be made to clear up the anxiety in the minds of civil servants?

If there were a further announcement about cuts I would naturally tell the national staff side at the earliest opportunity. I refer the hon. Member to my statement of 6 December. There has been no significant change since then.

Can my hon. Friend assure the House that work is still proceeding with all possible urgency on the options of 10, 15 and 20 per cent. economies?

My hon. Friend knows that those figures were not targets. In my statement on 6 December I said that a number of studies were being conducted in the Departments, notably in the Ministry of Defence, the Department of Health and Social Security and the Department of the Environment on further savings, which, I hope, will be in addition to what I believe to be the largest programme of savings announced at any one time.