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Senior Professionals (Secondment)

Volume 167: debated on Monday 12 February 1990

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To ask the Minister for the Civil Service what further steps he is taking to encourage the secondment into the Civil Service of industrialists and other senior professionals.

More exchanges have taken place in recent years and the Government are determined to continue the upward trend.

Why, of the 12 competitions held for the agencies set up by the Government, has only one outsider been appointed, Mr. David Beeton, to the Royal Historic Palaces Agency? There are also two directors-designate who will come from outside the Civil Service. Conversely, how many of the First Division Association have been seconded to industry?

I cannot give a precise answer on the latter point. In the past 10 years the number of exchanges between the Civil Service and the private sector and commerce has almost doubled. In addition, there have been 500 exchanges between the Government and the non-commercial sector, including local government. We want to encourage that. The Government's policy is to encourage open competitions for the appointment of chief executives of agencies. We want to select people on their merit and get the best possible people to serve in those posts. There have been a number of open competitions but, as my hon. Friend said, only one non-civil servant been selected for the job. That does not mean that others may not be selected in the future.