HC Deb 07 April 1964 vol 692 cc785-7
18. Dr. Bray

asked the Postmaster-General what representations he has now received from the Civil Service Clerical Association regarding the proposed location of the Post Office Savings Bank.

Mr. Bevins

The Civil Service Clerical Association has written to me expressing its disappointment at the decision to move the bank to Glasgow, contrary to the staff preference for Tees-side. I fully understand its reaction but as I said on 25th March the Government considered that the choice of Glasgow was in the national interest.

Dr. Bray

Is the Minister aware that it makes nonsense of joint consultation if his staff is asked where they would like to go and then told that they cannot go there? Can he tell the House whether this is the policy which he proposes to pursue regarding the location of other Government Departments?

Mr. Bevins

The hon. Gentleman is quite wrong. On two occasions I discussed this matter with representatives of the staff side and I made quite clear that their views would be taken into account, as indeed they were. I made it equally clear that their views, in the nature of the case, could not be decisive.

Dame Irene Ward

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that most people interested in the preservation of good industrial relations feel that this was a most ridiculous way in which to handle the matter? Is he aware that it would have been just as simple for the Government to come to a decision without making inquiries of the staff side at all? Will he please accept that in the north of England—even though we may perhaps be prejudiced in this matter—we think that it was a very bad way to handle the affair?

Mr. Bevins

I am sorry, but I wholly disagree with my hon. Friend. Had the Government come to a decision and subsequently informed the staff association, I am sure that the association would have been more irate than it is at the moment.

Mr. Millan

Is the Minister aware that his decision to move the bank to Glasgow has been welcomed enthusiastically in Scotland, and that the Glasgow Corporation and other authorities will do everything in their power to welcome the staff? Is he aware that many of the anxieties which the staff have about the move will not materialise and that they will find themselves very welcome and will be very happy in Glasgow?

Mr. Bevins

I have every reason to believe that what the hon. Gentleman has said is true.

Mr. Shinwell

Is the Minister aware that the decision not to transfer the Post Office Savings Bank to Tees-side has been received with no enthusiasm whatever, and indeed with considerable disappointment? Was not an assumption made some time ago—to which I understand the Minister gave some measure of support—that the transfer would be made to Tees-side? May I ask a plain question? Was it the right hon. Gentleman who came to this decision, or the Prime Minister?

Mr. Bevins

The decision to send the bank to Glasgow was a Government decision. In a dispersal of this size, involving the employment in Glasgow of perhaps 5,000 or 6,000 people, it was perfectly right that I should consult my colleagues in the Government.