Letter: New life after Crown service

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The Independent Online
From Mr John Horam, MP

Sir: I am sorry that your Westminster correspondent, Chris Blackhurst, has drawn some incorrect conclusions from the figures I gave Alan Milburn, MP, in reply to this question about the behavioural conditions imposed on former civil servants under the business appointments rules ("Staff exodus stripping Whitehall of knowledge", 9 September).

Behavioural conditions, which restrict for a period what a former civil servant may do for a new employer, do not tell the whole story; waiting periods are also used.

For the record, in 1994-95, 38 waiting periods were imposed, as well as the 49 behavioural conditions quoted by Mr Blackhurst. This means that 14 per cent of applications in 1994-95 attracted a waiting period or a behavioural condition. I think this is realistic.

The business appointment rules are not meant to stop Crown servants taking up jobs in the private sector. They strike a balance between the freedom of individuals to take up any employment they choose and the avoidance of any suspicion of impropriety.

Applications, which are often made some months after people leave Crown service, are considered individually and on their merits. The presumption that most applications will be approved unconditionally is actually written into the rules.

As for stripping Whitehall of knowledge, many of the applications are made by civil servants who are on the point of retirement or who have already retired. Although the Government may have lost its knowledge, I am gratified to know that the economy continues to benefit from its expertise.


John Horam

Parliamentary Secretary

Office of Public Service

Cabinet Office

London, SW1

14 September