Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Mr. Peter Lilley (Hitchin and Harpenden) (Con): The Chancellor promised a gross reduction of 80,000 posts in the civil service over coming years. Can he tell us what the net reduction, or increase, will be over that period, and how many posts will simply be outsourced? Of the 88,000 extra posts that he created in education last year, how many does he now propose to abolish?

    Mr. Brown: First, the figures that I announced were 84,000?

    Mr. Lilley: Gross.

    Mr. Brown: The figures were 84,000 for the UK Administration and 20,000 for the devolved Administrations. I announced in the Budget?[Hon. Members: “Net.”] Hon. Gentlemen do not want an answer; they want to provoke the House into not having a proper debate on these issues. I am going through the figures for the benefit of the right hon. Member for Hitchin and Harpenden (Mr. Lilley), who was, after all, the shadow Chancellor some years ago.

    We announced in the Budget that as far as the Department for Work and Pensions was concerned, there would be a gross reduction of 40,000 and a net reduction of 30,000. I believe that the figures are 84,000 and 69,000 or 70,000, and on top of that, 20,000 from the devolved administrations and local government. Of course, we are relocating 20,000 jobs in total. That is why the administrative costs of the Government will fall to 3.7 per cent. I should have thought that the Conservative party?which has brought forward not one proposal about how to make those changes, despite all the talk of a so-called commission to examine the issue?would have welcomed the fact that we have done the serious and rigorous work that no previous Government have done, to make sure that we have the right civil service numbers for the future.