HC Deb 05 March 1963 vol 673 cc188-9
19. Mr. Russell

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works, in view of the fact that the head of the new works organisation, the chief architect and the chief engineer are to be those who occupied similar positions in the old Ministry of Works, to what extent new methods of working as distinct from those traditional in his Department are to be employed.

Mr. Rippon

0: My new Directorate-General of Works will adopt the best practices and methods of the four existing organisations which are being integrated. It will also have the benefit of the pioneering work of the newly formed Directorate-General of Research and Development.

Mr. Russell

While thanking my right hon. Friend for that reply, may I ask him whether he is aware that there is still a great deal of anxiety among the professional works staff of the three Service Departments and that this looks like a take-over by his Department rather than a merger? Can he take some more steps to show that he will use the best resources from all four Works Departments?

Mr. Rippon

I have announced the reconstitution of the Directorate-General of Works as well as the constitution of the new Directorate-General of Research and Development. Three of the appointments have gone to people in my Ministry. The Director-General of Works comes from the Admiralty. The Chief Civil Engineer will come from the Air Ministry. A new Deputy Secretary has been appointed from the Ministry of Education, and there is an Under-Secretary from the Scottish Office, while one of the top appointments has gone to the D.S.I.R. We are taking steps to ensure that we get the cream of the Departments working on these matters.

Mr. Snow

In the anxiety to retain the so-called cream, is it not a fact that some of the experience and skill of the old engineers of the Ministry of Works is being jeopardised?

Mr. Rippon

I do not think so. There will be great value found in the experience of the Ministry of Works which built such projects as Spadeadam, the Bedford wind tunnel and the Jodrell radio telescope. There is also the experience of the engineers and others in the Service Departments.

Mr. C. Pannell

Bearing in mind that much of this experience is traditional in Government Departments, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman what arrangements he has in a merger like this? Are there wider consultative arrangements with outside industry and others, or is this just a closed enclave?

Mr. Rippon

It is perfectly possible for us to do as we have done with the inquiry on the shipyards—to bring in outside people to work together with the people in the Civil Service to get the best possible solution. I do not exclude any possibilities, but a merger of this kind is a complicated operation, and it is taking some time. I think that the House will have every reason to be fully satisfied with the results.

Mr. P. Williams

Will my right hon. Friend recognise that he appears, at any rate to me, to have announced a fairly dramatic change of policy in answer to a supplementary question and that the House would be better served by a full statement on this, or at least by a White Paper?

Mr. Rippon

I have not announced anything new. There has been a series of announcements from Admiralty House since I was appointed explaining the transfer of responsibilities and the nature of the reorganisation taking place.