» Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Civil Service Posts

Asked why it was wrong to employ Andrew Parsons and Nicola Woodhouse in civil service posts and not other former Conservative staff, the PMS said that the people being referred to had been employed to do a cross-Government job. The reason for this was because we thought it would be an effective way of saving money.

However, the PMS said that the Prime Minister had decided that civil servants doing these jobs sent the wrong signal to the public at a difficult time. The PMS said that it had therefore been agreed that they would return to work for the Conservative Party in purely political roles.

On why this was not the case for other people in similar positions, the PMS said that as a general statement of policy, the employment of those individuals was all done in line with the established procedures. It was normal for Government departments to employ people on a temporary basis. It was not normal, or legal, for the Government to consider people’s political affiliation when considering them for a job.

The PMS said that we would continue to look at ways to save more money on communications and we would be saving considerable sums over the next few years.

Asked if Andrew Parsons would be accompanying the Prime Minister on any official business, the PMS said that he would not. Asked if the Government would be seeking to fill the role left by Nicky Woodhouse, the PMS said we would look at the various communications needs of the Cabinet office and No10.

Put that it had been reported that Andrew Parsons and Nicky Woodhouse would not be replaced, which then opened up the possibility that they weren’t needed to start with, the PMS said that there were lots of people across Government departments employed in communications roles of one sort or another and we were looking across departments to see what we needed and how we could best deploy those resources.

Asked when the review into Government websites would be completed, the PMS said he did not know when it was due to report. Asked if the Government was looking at having just one website, the PMS replied that we were looking at rationalising websites.

Asked how much money employing Andy Parsons and Nicky Woodhouse would save, the PMS said that he did not have a figure, but the Government was confident that savings could be made. The PMS said we were seeking to reduce the amount of duplication across Government.

Asked if the initial decision to make these two members of staff civil servants stemmed from the Prime Minister’s wish to cut down on the number of Special Advisors, the PMS replied that these were not Special Adviser roles. The Prime Minister had considered the issue, and decided that it sent the wrong signal.

Asked if this would lead to a review into how people were employed on a temporary basis, the PMS said that he didn’t think so. The PMS said that departments needed some flexibility to be able to employ people on short term contracts, to enable them to have the resources they needed to do their jobs.

Asked if the Prime Minister thought that some of the criticism was down to the fact that these people had been employed without any competition, the PMS said that these were long-established procedures. The PMS said it was important that Government departments had the flexibility of being able to employ someone very quickly.

Asked whose idea it was to hire them in that way, the PMS replied that the decision to hire them as civil servants was taken on the basis of civil service advice. The advice given was that, if they were going to be doing Government jobs, they would need to be Government employees.

original source.

Briefing took place at 10:00 | Search for related news

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