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Volume 177: debated on Monday 23 July 1990

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To ask the Minister for the Civil Service how many appointments have been made at grades 1 to 3 since 1979.

There are approximately 650 posts at these grades, to which about 1,000 appointments have been made over this period. Totally accurate figures are not available for the early years.

I realise that the Minister is biased, but does he appreciate that those figures appear to some people to be a process of Thatcherisation of the civil service since 1979, as we know the general approach that the Prime Minister and her Ministers adopt to recruitment? It seems that taxpayers' money is being used to install Tory party loyalists—or stooges, in the jobs throughout No. 10—to senior appointments in the civil service. Would not it be better to have a genuinely impartial appointments system or an open and honest spoils system rather than what appears to be the politically motivated, politically biased and hyprocritical system of appointment that exists now?

That was a colourful question, but the hon. Gentleman knows that the civil service in this country is utterly impartial and that the Government do not make political appointments to top professional civil service posts. Here I pray in aid the all-party Select Committee on the Treasury and Civil Service, which in 1986 said that it had received

"no convincing evidence that the British civil service is being or has been politicised."
That speaks for itself.

I cannot say how many of those 1,000 appointments are women. However, recruitment figures now show that more than 50 per cent., including high fliers, are women. There has been a big increase in the number of women in the civil service, but there are still very few at the top level. I hope that equality of opportunity will ensure that more get there.