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Job Satisfaction

Volume 124: debated on Monday 14 December 1987

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To ask the Minister for the Civil Service how he intends to make the work of civil servants more effective and rewarding.

A great deal is already being done to make civil servants' work even more effective. A number of major reforms are directed towards this end, including development of the financial management initiative, departmental budgeting systems, a new staff appraisal system, and the scrutiny approach to reviewing activities.

I accept what my right hon. Friend has said. How will the taxpayer benefit from value from money gained from such reforms?

One supremely important example is the efficiency scrutinies that have been carried out over the past several years. They have led to recurring savings of £300 million a year. Many scrutinies are being carried out each year, and that improvement is increasing all the time in terms of value for money for the consumer.

What is the Minister doing about performance-related pay? Does he accept that in the National Audit Office it has been of particular value in being able to get a rather wider range of pay, depending on the kind of work that is performed?

I agree with the right hon. Gentleman. Although it is principally a matter for my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it is important to re-state the value that we attach to performance-related pay. As the right hon. Gentleman may know, for the first time we are introducing performance-related discretionary awards for senior grades 2 and 3. Performance bonuses are already being allocated from grade 2 down to grade 7. The three-year experiment will be completed at the end of this financial year. We shall have to decide how to proceed from there. The principle of performance-related pay is now well accepted within the Civil Service.

I realise the steps that have been taken by my right hon. Friend under his great stewardship. Does he agree that one of the best ways of encouraging individual performance is to give each person an individual task and objective and then to praise and reward him when he has done them well?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Of course, we have now introduced the staff appraisal system, which enables individuals all the way through the bulk of the Civil Service to determine in an open way with their senior managers their objectives and what is expected of them and then to appraise their overall achievements. The principle of giving some discretionary award to those who have an outstanding contribution to make and whose performance has been outstanding is the right principle to encourage.

Does the Minister agree that the work of the Crown Suppliers is effective, rewarding and certainly provides value for money? Does he agree also that morale is low at present because of the intention of the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, the hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Chope), to try to privatise the agency for reasons relating to political dogma? Will he inquire into the matter, ask for the views of the head of the Home Civil Service, Sir Robert Armstrong, and, after that, have a quiet word with his hon. Friend?

I am most grateful for the hon. Gentleman's advice, which I shall consider, but I am not sure whether I shall react to it in that way. I agree that the Crown Suppliers do an excellent job. We are concerned to ensure that the service is managed in such a way that we get the best possible value for money for the taxpayer from the management of that service, and we are concerned at all times with the quality of the service that it offers the public. There are different ways in which such management can take place. No doubt those matters are being examined in that context.