Digby Jones sparks union row over call to sack civil servants

Lord Digby Jones has been branded as “narrow minded and naive” by a Whitehall trade union in response to his comment that many civil servants “deserved the sack”.

The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) – which has more than 300,000 members in 200 government departments and agencies – said public servants would find his comments “grossly insulting”.

Jones was giving evidence to a committee of MPs about his role last year as a junior trade minister. He did describe the Civil Service as “honest, stuffed full of decent people who work hard”.

But he added: “Frankly the job could be done with half as many, it could be more productive, more efficient, it could deliver a lot more value for money for the taxpayer.

“I was amazed, quite frankly, at how many people deserved the sack and yet that was the one threat that they never ever worked under, because it doesn’t exist.”

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka attacked Jones’s comments. “These are narrow minded and naive comments which show a complete lack of understanding of what the Civil Service does,” he said.

“He must be living on another planet if he thinks these things can be done with half the people, and civil and public servants across the UK will find his comments grossly insulting.

“The Civil Service has already suffered 80,000 job cuts, which has damaged service levels and with more cuts to follow key services will remain at breaking point.”

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