§ 24. Mr. Spearing
asked the Minister for the Civil Service if he is making any arrangements for recruitment into the administrative trainee grades of persons with experience outside the ranks of the Civil Service who are between 30 and 35 years of age.
§ Mr. Charles R. Morris
No, Sir. The upper age limit for external recruitment to the administration trainee grade is 28. This is a training grade, and the entry is designed to bring into the Service young graduates of high quality who are expected to achieve the principal grade by their late 20s or early 30s. In so doing, the Civil Service practice is in line with that of most other major recruiters of graduates. There have been annual opportunities in recent years for those in their thirties to join the Administration Group as principals.
§ Mr. Spearing
I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for his reply, but will he tell us what are the numerical opportunities for persons joining as principals after the age of 30? When senior civil servants are having to deal with firms and bodies outside, is it not prima facie an advantage for a certain proportion of them to have had active experience in such firms and bodies before they take responsibility in Ministries?
§ Mr. Morris
I accept my hon. Friend's argument entirely. It is advantageous for civil servants to have experience of industry and the private sector generally. My 24 hon. Friend referred to the promotion prospects of late entrants. Those who come in at principal level will have the same opportunities as other principals. I referred in my answer to the administrative training grade. That is only one way of entry. People above the age of 28 can come in at executive level, progress to HEO level and then seek entry to the internal administrative training grades.
§ Mrs. Bain
In an age in which we have tried to legislate against sex and race discrimination, is it not unacceptable that the Civil Service should still practise this form of age discrimination? At a time of high unemployment, is not this closure of another avenue of employment totally unacceptable?
§ Mr. Morris
I do not accept that there has been any closure of this opportunity. If the hon. Lady is pointing, from her knowledge, to the Civil Service discriminating against women in terms of age—I recall the case to which she is referring—I remind her that we are changing the regulations in order to take account of that situation.