HC Deb 10 April 1963 vol 675 cc1271-2
38. Miss Harvie Anderson

asked the Secretary of State for War why it is proposed to move the Scottish Infantry Record Office out of Scotland.

Mr. Ramsden

The amalgamation of the Perth Record Office with that at York where there is new specially designed accommodation and new punched card machines will produce very substantial economies. I regret therefore that my right hon. Friend has had to decide to close the Record Office at Perth.

Miss Anderson

Is my hon. Friend aware of the bad effect on morale that this will have and that it will be regarded as removing yet another part of the independence of the Scottish regiments? Will he not look again to the alternative, which was put up and looked upon favourably about two years ago, that at least some of the work should be maintained in Scotland?

Mr. Ramsden

We are confident that the Scottish infantry regiments will get from the office at York every bit as good a service as they have had from Perth. Many Scottish units are already administered with regard to their records outside Scotland at the moment. I am afraid that, for reasons of economy which I have mentioned, it is impossible to reconsider this decision.

The Earl of Dalkeith

While I appreciate some of the reasons given by my hon. Friend, I wonder whether he could make his answer still more convincing by letting us have some figures of the economy that will be effected as a result of this change?

Mr. Ramsden

The estimated economy is about £40,000 in a full year.

Mr. Manuel

Does not the hon. Gentleman, in making this decision, consider that the Records Office could have been just as suitable at Perth as in the English location that he has now given to the combined operation, and can he say whether his right hon. Friend has the figures of the actual numbers which will be removed from Scotland to York as a result of this transaction?

Mr. Ramsden

We considered that, but what weighed with us was the fact that the volume of work and the number of staff employed in York were more than three times that of the Perth office, and new accommodation to house staff and machines had recently been specially built for the Records Office in York. The effect on employment, I am glad to say, although any effect is regrettable, will be comparatively slight.