Government Efficiency and Reform

Nick's Question on the Ministerial Statement

Nick Herbert (Arundel and South Downs) (Con)

 May I congratulate my right hon. Friend and parliamentary neighbour, who has done a superb job in driving these savings and thereby ensuring front-line services can be protected? He has done a fine job behind the scenes and will be much missed from this place, but I hope he will be able to continue in some way in this important public service. Does he agree that the key part of his statement was that these savings have been achieved as a result of a strong corporate centre—a central drive for efficiency—and is it not the case that that centre will have to be strengthened further if significant additional savings are to be achieved?

Mr Maude The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General (Mr Francis Maude)

 I am grateful for my right hon. Friend’s kind comments, and I also hugely appreciate that he and the right hon. Member for Wentworth and Dearne (John Healey) have done in leading the work of GovernUp, which has made the case very powerfully, as indeed has the Public Accounts Committee, for a strong corporate centre in Government that can drive these sorts of changes. When we examined this, we found that, in almost all cross-government functions, the historical position of the British Government is to have an extraordinarily weak centre. That is part of the reason why it has been proved in the past to be so difficult to drive these sorts of efficiency savings, but we are changing that.

Alexander Black