§ Mr. Renton
Responsibility for recruitment to junior grades in the civil service was transferred from the civil service commissioners to Departments on 1 January 1983. My right hon. Friend the Member for Shoreham (Sir R. Luce) the then Minister of State, announced on 13 April 1989 that it was proposed to extend further the area of recruitment which is the responsibility of Departments and agencies from 1 April 1991.
To give effect to the new recruitment arrangements the Civil Service Order in Council 1991 and a separate Diplomatic Service Order in Council 1991 were made at a meeting of the Privy Council held on 5 February 1991. The orders, copies of which have been placed in the Library, revoke and re-enact with substantial amendments the Civil Service Order in Council 1982.
From 1 April 1991, recruitment to all grades—except those at grade 7 level and above and their fast-stream feeder entries—will become the responsibility of Departments and agencies. This extends the area of recruitment for which Departments and agencies are responsible from the present 85 per cent. or so of all recruitment to over 95 per cent.
It is important that recruitment into the civil service should continue to be uninfluenced by patronage or partiality. Selection on merit on the basis of fair and open competition has been the fundamental principle of civil service recruitment since the Northcote-Trevelyan reforms. This principle will be preserved both in selection undertaken by Departments and agencies—departmental recruitment—and in selection undertaken on the responsibility of the civil service commissioners—commissioners' recruitment. Certain exceptions to the general principle, which allow for flexibility in specific circumstances, are set out in schedules to the orders.
The changes are an essential part of the process of modernising the civil service and of giving managers more autonomy in the use of resources. They reflect the current change in the role of the central departments, with the emphasis switching from regulation and control to advice, audit and the provision of cost-effective services.