Examination of Witness (Questions 280-292)|
THURSDAY 1 NOVEMBER 2001
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.
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
(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
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.
287. Is there a political head of the Cabinet
(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?
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
(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
(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.