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Departmental Policy

Volume 986: debated on Thursday 19 June 1980

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asked the Minister for the Civil Service whether he will make a statement on the results of his Department, after 13 months of the present Government, in achieving the policy programme which he set it on assuming office.

When we took office, my right hon. and noble Friend the Lord President and I had as our main objective to achieve a smaller, more efficient Civil Service embodying the best in modern management practice. Considerable progress has already been made towards that aim and more can be expected from work still in hand. Staff in post in Government Departments on 1 April 1980 stood at 705,100 as against 732,300 on 1 April 1979. This is the biggest drop in any year for over 20 years. Recent CSD initiatives on postage and telecommunications, on the formulae used to determine staffing levels in a number of Departments, on typing and messengerial services and on transport have already identified annual savings of £4½ million. Much more can be expected to follow from these and other studies by CSD of activities common to Departments. In addition, savings as high as £40 million are expected through extending the life of computer equipment. The Civil Service Department will ensure that the lessons to be learnt from Sir Derek Rayner's programme of departmental scrutinies receive the widest possible application. The drive for greater efficiency, which is carried out in close co-operation with other Departments, will continue throughout the duration of this Parliament. It will be a major factor in the Government's plans, as announced by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 13 May 1980—[Vol. 984, c. 1050–1]—to reduce the size of the Civil Service to about 630,000 over the next four years.