Examination of Witnesses (Questions 80-86)|
6 FEBRUARY 2007
Q80 Mr Prentice: I understand that
but should people who get to the top of the Civil Service have
MBAs, for example?
Sir Gus O'Donnell: MBAs is an
interesting question. I am not a huge fan of MBAs.
Q81 Mr Prentice: I do not know if
you have an MBA.
Sir Gus O'Donnell: I have not
got an MBA although, curiously enough, I have taught on courses
for MBAs. I think they should have very strong professional qualifications.
I would like my successors who come through to have had more delivery
experience than I have had. Precisely what technical qualifications
they need, the fact that I have got training in finance and economics
is very useful, I find, but some of the MBA modules that I have
seen, I have certainly done lots of these training things that
are things you would cover in an MBA and I have found them very
useful; whether precisely an MBA is the right thing is an interesting
Q82 Mr Prentice: You went all misty-eyed
when you were talking to Kelvin earlier about how things were
so much better now than in the bad old days in the 1970s. I was
looking at this Cabinet Office document from the Prime Minister's
Strategy Unit, November 2006 so it is bang up-to-dateStrategic
Priorities for the UK: The Policy Reviewand it tells
us that the UK remains amongst the most unequal societies in the
European Union and that those at the lower end of the income distribution
scale remained less likely to move to a higher bracket. When you
read this did that shock you?
Sir Gus O'Donnell: It did not
shock me because I knew it; we produced it.
Q83 Mr Prentice: Someone produced
it on your behalf.
Sir Gus O'Donnell: Our Strategy
Unit which is part of the Cabinet Office.
Q84 Mr Prentice: Okay, so it did
not shock you?
Sir Gus O'Donnell: When I went
through the things that have improved dramatically, it is interesting
I said things like reduced unemployment and the like, and when
you look at people's welfare again the question of happiness was
brought up there. One of the things that is very important for
happiness is having a job. The other thing is mental illness and
the like. One of the statistics that is not in there is that we
have in England the lowest suicide rate that we have had on record,
so there are reasons to believe that welfare levels have moved
up. However, I agree with you there are growing patterns in the
world which are likely to create real forces towards increased
inequality, that is what one of the negative aspects of globalisation
is likely to be, and I think that is one of the key things that
government policy will have to address, and I would do it through
skills and education primarily.
Q85 Chairman: Just another misty-eyed
question. You were passionate in talking about the Government's
policy goals. Could you be as passionate about another Government's
Sir Gus O'Donnell: It depends
what they are. In terms of passion I am sure there are things
which I expect to see. There is cross-party consensus on climate
change and things like trying to improve the service that the
Civil Service delivers to customers, and I think those are things
that all parties will accept, yes.
Q86 Chairman: Let us just go back
to where we started asking you about the police and whether it
was distracting to government and so on and you said rightly,
as you would say, that the business of government goes on regardless.
It actually cannot be quite like that, can it, with the police
in Downing Street and dawn raids on Number 10 staff and Cabinet
ministers being interviewed and so on? We know there is an awful
lot of disquiet inside Government about the way in which the police
are operating and the leaks and so on. Is that a disquiet that
Sir Gus O'Donnell: I am afraid
while this investigation is going on I do not think it would be
appropriate for me to comment on it.
Chairman: Thank you very much. Thank
you for a very interesting session.
Sir Gus O'Donnell: You are very
welcome, thank you.