HC Deb 17 July 1963 vol 681 cc518-9
36 and 37. Mr. Boyden

asked the Secretary of State for Air (1) what were the reasons for the transfer of his Department's Works Services organisation to the Ministry of Public Building and Works.

(2) on what date the decision to transfer his Works Services department to the Ministry of Public Building and Works was taken; and on what date the actual transfer took place.

Mr. H. Fraser

The decision to transfer responsibility for Royal Air Force Works Services to the Minister of Public Building and Works was part of a larger decision to concentrate in his Department as much as possible of the Government's direct construction programme so as to make easier his task of coordinating building resources in this country. The decision was announced on 22nd October, 1962, and the transfer took place on 1st April, 1963.

Mr. Boyden

Are there any members of the staff of the former Works Services organisation still left behind, and are there any departments connected with Works Services still remaining with the Air Ministry? If so, what now are their functions?

Mr. Fraser

We have a planning staff in my Department which works closely with the new department. I think that the other question would be appropriate if addressed to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Public Building and Works.

Mr. Digby

In view of the Defence White Paper which was published yesterday, is this not a rather curious moment to have hived off these activities, while others are now centred more and more in the hands of the Minister of Defence, who will not now have such directcontrol over them?

Mr. Fraser

The question of control has been worked out. On the wider question, I think that it was most important that the whole problem should be considered, and I am certain that the present arrangements will be effective.

Mr. Mulley

Is the right hon. Gentleman sure that this new arrangement relates only to Works Services in this country? My impression is that it relates to Works Services overseas as well. Is he satisfied that the decision is not likely to have a detrimental effect on the work of the R.A.F. overseas, and will he not make representations to see if the matter cannot now be reconsidered as part of the general reorganisation of defence, of which we had an indication yesterday?

Mr. Fraser

It does apply overseas as well. Myinvestigations of this matter show that it will work effectively overseas. If it does not I will certainly then make representations. However, at the moment, I am fully convinced that the new organisation will be effective overseas.

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