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Efficiency and Reform Group

Volume 511: debated on Wednesday 9 June 2010

12. If he will ensure that trade unions are involved in the work of his Department’s efficiency and reform group. (1353)

We are committed to proper engagement with public service staff and their representatives. Last week I had a good meeting with the Council of Civil Service Unions, and yesterday I attended a meeting of the TUC’s public service liaison group. We will invite the TUC and its member organisations, plus other representatives of public service employees, to meet regularly to discuss matters affecting the work force who deliver our vital public services, and to build on the work of the Public Service Forum, which I am committed to continuing and which will meet in July. There will be difficult issues to discuss, no doubt, but we are determined to air them through regular dialogue.

I thank the Minister for that reply. Will he look at the report that the Public and Commercial Services Union produced last year, showing that 20,000 tax collectors were sacked at a time when at least £40 billion of tax evasion and avoidance was going on in this country? Will he work with the unions to try to resolve that matter?

I hear what the hon. Gentleman says, but he will recollect the former Chief Secretary to the Treasury who said that there was no money left. We have to run the Government with less money than there was, and there will have to be cuts. We hope, to the maximum extent possible, that public spending can be cut without affecting jobs, but it is unreal to expect that that will be totally avoidable.