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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 February, 2004, 16:18 GMT
Freeze call over civil servants
Michael Howard amid cardboard cut-out civil servants
The Tories say a civil service culture shift is needed
Civil service recruitment will be frozen if the Conservatives get into power, the Tory leader has pledged.

For every 1,000 people in Britain, two are doctors, three are police officers but nine are civil servants, said Michael Howard.

He said government ought to interfere less in people's lives, meaning that ministers had to find things their departments should no longer do.

Labour claims the Tories are trying to cut frontline public service workers.

'Culture change'

Launching his latest policy on Tuesday amid cardboard cut-out civil servants , Mr Howard said Britain had more than half a million civil servants - seven times as many people as attended last year's FA Cup Final.

His shadow chancellor, Oliver Letwin, said: "One reason for doing this is to save money.

"But the main reason is to change the culture in Whitehall - to shift the emphasis away from identifying what else the government could do and towards identifying what it should not do."

But Cabinet Office Minister Douglas Alexander accused Mr Howard of waste when he was in government and argued the Tories were concealing their real agenda.

"The Tory plans would mean reducing the number of teachers, doctors, nurses and police officers on the front line," said Mr Alexander.

Liberal Democrat chairman Matthew Taylor said there were now 13,000 fewer civil servants than in 1995, when the Tories were in power.

"The unthinking Tory freeze on Government recruitment will simply cause chaos, whilst their pledge to cut tax will starve schools and hospitals," he said.

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