Select Committee on Treasury Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 569 - 579)




  569. Sir Andrew, thank you for coming. Thank you also to you and your colleagues for coming across earlier than anticipated, we are grateful to you. Could I begin by just asking two very specific questions related to matters which we discussed in May. The first relates to the development of your building. Is it on schedule? Has a tenant been found for the eastern half? Could you generally update us on that?
  (Sir Andrew Turnbull) Pretty close to schedule. I would not say they are absolutely on it but only a matter of a week or two here, a week or two there. I have been round it, there is a tremendous amount of work actually going on. I can see the new open spaces now opening up. I think they are confident that they will deliver this. I think it has to be back to us in August of 2002. The question of the tenant for the Parliament Street end, that is the responsibility of EP. Because this is a PFI project there is a transfer of risk. One of the risks that is transferred is that they have the responsibility to find the tenant and agree a rent, or rather a unitary payment, with them. They are in the process of discussing with potential tenants at this moment.

  570. But you do not know how they are getting on?
  (Sir Andrew Turnbull) They have not signed a deal with anyone, no, not yet.

  571. Have they got people in mind, do you know?
  (Sir Andrew Turnbull) Yes. They are working with property advisers to the civil estate, PACE, who know the requirements of various government departments, who has got leases that are surrenderable, expensive leases they might want to move, might want to reorganise. They certainly will want to talk to the two revenue departments, whether they want to take up the space. That process of actually marketing it is just beginning.

  572. And the policy of keeping it in the public sector is clear?
  (Sir Andrew Turnbull) That is in the contract. For a period of ten years they have to find a public sector tenant. Given its location that does not seem to me a difficult proposition, although obviously, as I say, they have got to agree a rent. This is right in the centre of the Whitehall/Westminster complex and there are lots of people who would like to be there for operational reasons.

  573. The second question, if I could ask you a specific one, is what action have you taken and can you tell us a bit more about the response to the memorandum that you have produced about the poor management and bullying within the Treasury?
  (Sir Andrew Turnbull) We are doing two specific things. All senior managers will go through a process of management training. We are also organising a seminar in the new year. This will look at all sorts of diversity issues: the general way we relate to each other; the issues of making sure that the frustrations you feel are not then pushed down on to the people working for you. That will be part of this process of trying to produce people who are better managers of people as well as managers of policy or managers of resources.

  574. Do you accept that the Treasury was worse than other departments in this context?
  (Sir Andrew Turnbull) That was the finding. It is a hard driving place and it ought to become a more human, more people oriented place.

  575. You have not managed to find out why the Treasury, other than to say it works harder, is worse than other departments?
  (Sir Andrew Turnbull) Maybe there is some kind of character typing here, almost selection, the kind of work we do, the kind of roles we have, the fact that we are always under a lot of pressure, which is an important factor in bullying. It may be it is just the nature of being under the spotlight. If that is the case, it is still not acceptable and we have to find ways of coping with it.

Mr Davey

  576. Sir Andrew, I want to give you a question which I guess a lot of civil servants would like the opportunity to answer. Do you think MPs do a good job, particularly in the way we scrutinise the Treasury?
  (Sir Andrew Turnbull) I do not think I am going to— I am going to pass on that, I think.

  577. Would any of your colleagues like to take up that offer? This Committee and bodies like the Finance Bill Standing Committee, other department Select Committees, are supposed to scrutinise the output of Whitehall departments.
  (Sir Andrew Turnbull) Yes.

  578. Do you not want to comment on how well we do that job?
  (Sir Andrew Turnbull) I do not want to get into the business of one part of Government criticising the performance of another.

  579. This Committee may make a few criticisms of you, so I was giving you the opportunity to get in first.
  (Sir Andrew Turnbull) I think I am going to adopt a more deferential and respectful pose. Obviously there are things that can be done better.

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