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Civil Service: Broadening and Diversifying Expertise

Volume 715: debated on Thursday 9 June 2022

9. What steps his Department is taking to broaden and diversify expertise in senior posts within the civil service. (900332)

What an exciting time we are having this morning. The Government will provide a range of entry routes and a renewed focus on driving the movement of skills, experience and knowledge within the civil service, and between the civil service and other sectors, through loans, secondments and intergovernmental placements and fellowships. We have strengthened the external by default recruitment requirement for all senior civil servant roles, so all Departments will be able to recruit the people best placed to lead and work in Government.

The civil service fast stream ensures that the best and brightest in our society, no matter their background, rise to the top. Does my hon. Friend agree that restoring the fast stream would ensure that the top ranks of the civil service continue to be world leading in their breadth and depth of knowledge?

Fast stream places for autumn 2022 will be honoured and our direct entry apprenticeship and internship schemes will continue to bring new and diverse talent to the civil service. While we pause the fast stream for the 2023 intake, we will take the opportunity to further improve the fast stream offer. That reform will ensure that when the scheme reopens, it is focused on driving up specialist skills in the civil service, as well as improving the regional representation of the fast stream.

I know that my hon. Friend works hard with Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office officials on their international agenda in his capacity as chair of the all-party parliamentary groups on Belgium, Luxembourg and Tunisia. I take the opportunity to update him that, as part of our global Britain agenda and the establishment of the new College for National Security, we are launching international strategy and security fellowships, which are secondments, and where possible—

Order. I have the greatest respect for the Minister, but these are very long answers. We are certainly wandering away from where we started. Let us move on to the shadow Minister.

Increasing the diversity of the senior civil service is key to strengthening leadership and expanding expertise. Representation of ethnic minorities and disabled people in senior roles is still below the working population average. Given that the fast stream is a proven route to senior roles, it should be used as a tool to boost diversity, so the decision to freeze the scheme puts a reckless, ideological cuts agenda ahead of a sustained strategy to create a senior civil service that truly reflects our country. Can the Minister explain how cutting 91,000 jobs and freezing the fast stream will help to increase diversity in the senior civil service?

I am afraid the hon. Lady is missing the point completely. Respectfully, taxpayers should have value for money, and a civil service that has grown by 24% in only a few years is outrageous. The most important point about diversity is that we are moving jobs out of London, with regional jobs all over, and we are reflecting the public in those regional jobs.