The Rt. Hon. Sir John Major KG CH

Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 1990-1997

1991Prime Minister (1990-1997)

Mr Major’s Address to the Efficiency Unit at Foreign and Commonwealth Office – 4 November 1991

Below is Mr Major’s address to the Efficiency Unit at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, made on 4th November 1991.


[Indistinct] at No. 10 got me here rather later than I thought and I should have been somewhere else some time ago so I fear it a few moments it will be time to leave and my apologies for being with you for such a short time.

May I just say while I am here how grateful I am for the work you have done on the efficiency scrutinies. Many people just see them as an opportunity to save a few pennies for the Treasury. I don’t see them that way and neither does the Treasury — the Treasury would like rather more than a few pennies [laughter] and I would like to [indistinct] savings.

Savings, of course, are welcome but increasingly I think we have to look not just at the cash savings but at the quality and the quantity of the service that we are actually in a position to provide for people. I know many people still have a degree of scepticism about how serious the Government may be about the quality of service in the public sector. I can only say to you that I am deadly serious about it. I don’t think it is acceptable for the public sector to have a second-rate service and I don’t think providing a first-rate service is only about the level of resources which are there; it is also about the way in which those resources are used to ensure that the public, who provide those resources, get the service firstly that we think as professionals would like to provide for them and secondly that they as taxpayers have a right to expect and I believe the work which is being done by the Efficiency Scrutiny Teams, sometimes in very high-profile areas, others perhaps in quite tiny areas, have highlighted ways in which we can improve our procedures, improve our service and enable us to devote the resources we have to the areas that most need them.

So it is extremely valuable work and when you. actually aggregate all the changes that have been made as the result of individual scrutinies over the last few years, it does make a remarkable difference to the efficiency of the complete service that we provide so it has been a job very well done. If I may say so, you have earned the drink you are having!

I know it isn’t always a very popular thing to carry out an efficiency scrutiny and say to people who have been perfectly content doing something in a particular way that it is actually screamingly inefficient and they ought to do it in a wholly different way. It isn’t easy to do but I think it is very necessary for that to be done and I know from the reports that I have had from Robin and from Angus that it has been done with great skill and efficiency and I am very grateful to you all, so thank you very much.

I hope those of you who have done a scrutiny and gone back to your Department are finding [indistinct] I hope they are; they certainly deserve to and I personally am. Thank you very much all of you for all you have done and my apologies for being here for such a very brief time.