Trial and Error

I will explain the title later, and for those who do not like rants, I am railing against statements made by the Chancellor to the Treasury. He is bringing in a set of new regulations and procedures to try and bring more people who are on the dole, back into work. A laudable aim, and he does call it an aim, while saying that there will be no targets. In the 70s I worked for local government, was taken over by the civil service, and soon discovered the difference between local government and central government. In that changeover, we lost vast quantities of valuable reference work dating back at least a century, we were uprooted and had to go to a new building, we had new furniture, and our forms had to be redrafted and reprinted, in effect, it was a very expensive experiment, and I personally don’t think we gave the public the same quality of service heretofore. To give you one example, in local government we had small compounds throughout the city and the environs, in which were a few carts, tools and materials, which the men collected every morning and wheeled to their place of work which could be anywhere in a given area. The men were paid an additional sum called ‘Tramp’, because they were pushing the barrow. What they were also doing was looking at the road that they were responsible for and noting where repairs were necessary. When the civil service took over, the men rode in cars or lorries, and the state of the roads diminished. At the same time the financial part of our work was taken over by civil servant, these were people who had no experience of engineering works, and at times make decisions which were contrary to good practice. Senior civil servants only stay in a post for a relatively short time, before moving on, in order to obtain experience. For this reason I have always felt that the men at the top in any given government controlled undertaking, should be professionals in that undertaking, not civil servants

The Chancellor is proposing, as I understand it, to carry out this modification that he proposes right across-the-board, and if this is done in the way in which the one I have quoted was done, it will be a very expensive exercise. When an inventor produces a new product, he carries out trials to see if there are any errors in his judgement. This is done by using a panel of people likely to buy the product, examining and trying out the product, and then have a question and answers session. This whole performance is filmed so that a detailed examination can be made before serious money is put into the project. In the case of the Chancellor, I would have thought it would have been wise to have taken a county, possibly in the North-East, in which the unemployment is high, and carry out an experiment in that area, which would cost little by comparison, and at the same time monitor in some other part of the country another depressed area, which has not been modified, and compare the results after six to nine months. Untried prognosis is not a route to qualified success.

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