Select Committee on Public Administration Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witness (Questions 280-292)



  280. Yet the rather nice chart you have given us under the tea brown it does say that Geoff Mulgan and the Performance and Innovation Units an actually under your control, which is part of the Cabinet Office and the Forward Strategy Unit.
  (Sir Richard Wilson) They support the Forward Strategy Unit, yes. There are about 20 people in the Forward Strategy Unit, or there will be, and there is this small panel of outsiders whom the Prime Minister can draw upon to ask their views on particular projects that the Forward Strategy Unit is carrying out.

  281. Then you are managing not just the Civil Service but external people because in your speech in Harrogate you said that 4,000 interchanges had been made between the two so you are giving people the chance to come in and out? I have got your speech here.
  (Sir Richard Wilson) Yes I know it, I wrote it!

  282. There are 4,000 interchanges and you are getting an enormous amount of people coming in and out all the time. Do you not feel that it is becoming more of a managerial role that you are playing in a much larger organisation?
  (Sir Richard Wilson) There are two issues here that I would like to separate out. The Forward Strategy Unit has a very small panel of outside advisers. They are not in any sense employed by the Civil Service nor are they paid and nor do I manage them. They are unpaid advisers who provide advice free of charge to the Prime Minister on a very part-time basis. The interchange programme which I was describing at Harrogate is part of the Civil Service reform programme. Can I just give you some figures on that too. It involves secondments into the Service and out of the Service. There were 1,984 secondments out in 1999-2000, 1,130 in and then a number of attachments in and out where people came in for a week or two job shadowing particular projects. I think it is very important for the Civil Service that people should have an experience of working in more than one sector, the voluntary sector, the private sector, local government, whatever. We have put a very big effort into making that possible. A figure of nearly 2,000 people going out on secondment is a very big figure because each of them has to be negotiated and so that represents a big effort. For people coming in, it is similarly important to give people in local government, the voluntary sector, whatever, experience of working inside government.

  283. On the assumption that we are looking at public service, as we are, has the time come in your retirement that we should have somebody from business running the Civil Service?
  (Sir Richard Wilson) First of all, it is very difficult to be parachuted into the top of any organisation. If you want people to go into the top jobs from outside the Civil Service it is much more effective to bring them in a grade or two below so that they can learn the culture and see how it works out before you drag them in at the top job. I think that applies even more to the professional head of the Civil Service. I am the professional head of the Civil Service—

  284. That is why I am asking the question.
  (Sir Richard Wilson) And I think it would be inappropriate for somebody who has never worked for the Civil Service to be put into the job of being the professional head of it.

Annette Brooke

  285. Very briefly, I am not sure whether you can answer this, looking at the chart I am clear with your position now, but is the Deputy Prime Minister the Head of the Cabinet Office?
  (Sir Richard Wilson) The Deputy Prime Minister is the Head of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. I think the way to look at—

Mr Trend

  286. Excellent remark.
  (Sir Richard Wilson) I think the Cabinet Office is a federal structure. There are four different parts if you look at the colour coding. I report directly to the Prime Minister. Gus Macdonald reports to the Prime Minister. Baroness Morgan reports to the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. Then you have John Prescott, who is the most senior Minister of the team, and he is Deputy Prime Minister of the whole Government, and he has his own office. That is how I have described it.

Annette Brooke

  287. Is there a political head of the Cabinet Office?
  (Sir Richard Wilson) No. The Cabinet Office is not a department. Yes, there is a political head in the sense that we all of us report to the Prime Minister.

  Annette Brooke: Oh, thank you. I think we are back to where we started.

  Chairman: We are digesting on that reply and reflecting upon it. Gordon, quickly?

Mr Prentice

  288. I am content. No, I am not. On this chart again in two point type right down at the bottom there, one of your many responsibilities is that of the House of Lords' Appointments Commission.
  (Sir Richard Wilson) Yes.

  289. When are we going to get the Annual Report from the House of Lords' Appointments Commission, do we know? While you are thinking about that, are we going to have these People's Peers Road Shows again going out to scour the country for People's Peers?
  (Sir Richard Wilson) I am afraid I do not know the answers to those questions and I will not pretend I do.


  290. I think we have had a good run for our money. I want to thank you particularly for what you have said about the Civil Service legislation, I think that is profoundly important. Both the spirit in which you said it and the content of what you said is something that we do appreciate and everyone will. On No.10, in the last Parliament you gave us one of these charts—
  (Sir Richard Wilson) Yes, I did.

  291. I know we have got a chart fetish on here but it has become rather a collector's item with names and numbers and arrows. As part of our understanding of the new centre could you give us a new chart?
  (Sir Richard Wilson) I will give you an organisation chart for No.10.

  292. Thank you very much.
  (Sir Richard Wilson) But I will not merge it with this one because I want to protect the purity and simplicity of what we have produced.

  Chairman: As always, can I say how much we have enjoyed our session with you and we look forward to doing it again. Thank you.

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