Letter: Anxiety at long march of privatisation

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The Independent Online
Sir: So Madsen Pirie does not understand the disquiet that exists over the future of the civil service among politicians, academics, senior civil servants and the trade unions ('Public services that are for the people', 21 July).

Last year, of course, Dr Pirie was a member of the Prime Minister's Citizen's Charter advisory panel which awarded the Civil Service no fewer than eight 'Charter Marks', the much trumpeted new scheme which would, we were all led to believe, reward 'excellence in delivering public services'. Indeed, in his article, Dr Pirie is full of praise for this and other 'mechanisms' by which both customer satisfaction and quality can be measured and celebrated.

Twelve months on, it is interesting to note what has happened to each of the elite departments and agencies which proved to Dr Pirie and his colleagues how capable they were of meeting the challenge of achieving the high standards set by the Citizen's Charter. All but one of them is either being heavily market tested or prepared for outright privatisation.

This is precisely why there is so much disquiet within the Civil Service. The policy of the Major government towards the service was clearly put on to the record last November by Stephen Dorrell, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, when he promised nothing less than a 'long march through Whitehall'.

Yours faithfully,

BARRY REAMSBOTTOM

General Secretary, Civil and Public Services Association

London, SW11

22 July

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