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27 Feb 2006 : Column 41W—continued

Civil Servants (Retirement Age)

Keith Vaz: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what the retirement age is for civil servants; and whether his Department plans to change it. [51496]

Mr. Jim Murphy: Departments and agencies are free to set the normal retirement age for their own staff below the senior civil service subject only to the requirement that the minimum age at which civil servants can retire with full superannuation benefits is 60.

Against this background, over 80 per cent. of the civil service now has the option to remain in work until 65, and a further 11 per cent. has the option to remain in work on short service concessions.
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The normal retirement age for the senior civil service is 60. However, heads of departments and agency chief executives have the flexibility to retain members of the senior civil service beyond 60 if they judge it to be in the public interest and are satisfied about the fitness and efficiency of the individual to carry out his or her duties.

Legislation which will come into force in October 2006 will result in the normal retirement age in the United Kingdom being 65. As a result employers will not have to justify the decision to retire an employee after that age. This will be subject to review after five years. To ensure compliance, the civil service is currently quality proofing its terms and conditions in this area to raise the retirement age of all its employees, including the senior civil service, to 65. Those areas of the civil service which consider that they need to maintain a retirement age below 65 will only be able to do so if they can objectively justify this by reference to particular circumstances. It is anticipated, however, that this will be a negligible figure against the total number of permanent civil servants.

Civil Service Nurseries

Mike Penning: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what the total cost to public funds of civil service nursery schemes was in 2004–05. [52564]

Mr. Jim Murphy: Individual Departments and agencies are responsible for their own decisions on the child care support they offer to their staff and figures on expenditure are not held centrally. Departments provide a range of support to staff including on-site nurseries and provision of child care vouchers.

COI Quinquennial Review

Mr. Heald: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when the last Central Office of Information quinquennial review took place; how much it cost to complete; when the next quinquennial review is scheduled to take place; what estimate he has made of the likely cost; and what (a) recommendations and (b) changes resulted from each Central Office of Information quinquennial review since 1996–97. [52366]

Mr. Jim Murphy: The last quinquennial review of the Central Office of Information (COI) reported in February 2002.

The review team was made up of staff from the Cabinet Office, the Office of Government Commerce, HM Treasury, COI and the Advisory Committee on Advertising. The cost of the time that officials spent on the review was not recorded.

The next quinquennial review has not yet been scheduled. All key performance measures are reviewed at least annually.

The recommendations of the 2002 review were:

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All of the recommendations have been implemented or subsumed into the recommendations of the Phillis Review.

Departmental Expenditure

Mr. Heald: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how much was spent on (a) the Prime Minister's Delivery Unit, (b) the Strategy Unit, (c) the Office of Public Service Reform, (d) the e-Government Unit, (e) the Policy Hub and (f) UK Gov Talk in each year since 1996–97 or the date of establishment; and what the estimated expenditure for 2005–06 is. [53810]

Mr. Jim Murphy: Resource expenditure for the Prime Minister's Delivery Unit (PMDU), the Strategy Unit (SU), the Office of Public Service Reform (OPSR), the e-Government Unit (EGU) and UK Gov Talk in each year since their establishment and the estimated expenditure for 2005–06 are shown in the table.

The Prime Minister's Delivery Unit was set up in 2001; the Strategy Unit was set up in 2002 and the Office of Public Service Reform was set up in 2001 (and disbanded in January 2006). The EGU was formed in May 2004; the former Office of the e-Envoy had different functions and responsibilities, and its costs have not been included. The UK Policy Hub was set up in 2002 as part of a wider information technology Knowledge Management Project and its costs are not identified separately year-by-year. However, its cost from inception to January 2004 was £207,000 excluding VAT. Since 1 February 2004, the site has been located on the Cabinet Office server with the associated costs absorbed within general Cabinet Office IT costs.

Net expenditure figures

(11) Estimated spend shown for 2005–06 is based on expenditure incurred up and including January plus an estimate of expenditure for February and March 2006.
Figures shown are for total resource spend less any income.

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Mr. Heald: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what the estimated expenditure for the Government Communication Group is for 2005–06. [53814]

Mr. Jim Murphy: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 9 January 2006, Official Report, column 201W.

Departmental Staff

Mr. Heald: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will list the members of the (a) Strategy Unit and (b) Prime Minister's Delivery Unit; and how many are in each pay band. [53812]

Mr. Jim Murphy: The Strategy Unit has 49.8 full time equivalent staff as at 31 January 2006. The breakdown by pay bands is shown in the table.
Pay bandNumber
Senior Civil Service 21
Senior Civil Service 19.6
Band A19.8
Band B27
Band B19
Band C21.4
Total FTE49.8

The total of 49.8 FTE excludes members of Strategy Unit staff who are on loan to other Government Departments, and are being paid by other Government Departments for the duration of the loan. There are six full time equivalents on loan to other Government Departments.

The total also excludes individuals who have been given an offer of employment with the Strategy Unit but were not in post on 31 January 2006. There were 5.8 full time equivalents yet to take up posts as at 31 January 2006.

The Prime Minister's Delivery Unit's agreed staffing profile for 2005–06 is set out in the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Southend West (Mr. Amess) on 15 December 2005, Official Report, column 2178W. Ian Watmore was appointed head of the unit at Permanent Secretary level on 9 January 2006.

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