New Forest East


Dr Julian Lewis: One group of civil servants where there has clearly been a huge increase are the political civil servants, the special advisers. Will the right hon. Lady give an undertaking to match the Conservative pledge to reduce the number of special advisers to their far more modest level when the Government took office in 1997?

[Marjorie Mowlam: I partly answered that in reply to the hon. Member for Christchurch (Mr Chope). No, we will not. We have never denied that we want special advisers to assist us in the volume of legislation that we are putting through. The hon. Gentleman cannot have it both ways. If he does not want the civil service to be politicised, special advisers perform an important role. As the head of the civil service, Sir Richard Wilson, said, to suggest that 73 special advisers will swamp 3,000 high-level civil servants is a myth.]