'There has been much public comment about the department in recent days. Much of it has been ill-informed and is quite simply wrong.
'What yesterday confirmed is that your work is very highly regarded not just by ministers here but in other quarters also. As one example the chairman of the house of commons transport select committee spoke, rightly, of the skilled and intelligent back up which you provide for transport policies. Others spoke similarly. I much welcomed those remarks. As I also said in response to Mrs Dunwoody: 'There is no doubt in my mind that the impartiality of the civil service is one of its greatest strengths. I have done nothing as secretary of state that would in any way compromise that impartiality, and that is how I intend to continue.'
Richard Mottram and I, other ministers and the board, are committed to giving you the leadership and support you need to do your jobs well, working in a department which not only delivers but has a high reputation based on what it achieves. We all need to work together as a team with mutual trust and confidence. That is what Richard Mottram and I talked about to the prime minister and Sir Richard Wilson last night.
We want everyone now to concentrate on the fact that what we do, every day, is tremendously important to improving the quality of life of people in this country. I will continue to work to this end. I know from my 8 months working with you that I am fortunate to be supported by a department overwhelmingly staffed by dedicated, hard-working people, ready to serve impartially governments of any colour.