HC Deb 06 December 1967 vol 755 cc1427-8
17. Mr. Buchanan-Smith

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will take steps, in the interests of regional development, to site Government offices and agencies in towns outside the central belt.

Dr. Dickson Mabon

It is the Government's policy to disperse office employment in the public sector wherever practicable in the interests of balanced regional development. The interests of areas outside central Scotland are taken into account when applying this policy to individual cases.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Government's record in bringing new Government offices to Scotland is not very great? Will he now perhaps retrieve his Government's reputation by getting the headquarters of the Meat and Livestock Commission to Scotland, and in particular to a livestock area such as the North-East of Scotland?

Dr. Mabon

The hon. Member knows that I cannot commit the Government on that. There are other hon. Members representing constituencies outside the central belt of Scotland who are interested in precisely the same headquarters. One headquarters which we have set up has been that of the Highlands and Islands Board, and there is the Crofters Commission. As the hon. Member may know, it is not in Wales, but in Inverness. The Livestock Commission is under consideration, together with the Scottish Countryside Commission. The hon. Member has certainly written to us about this matter and is right in raising it.

Mr. Stodart

Can the Under-Secretary say that his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has not done a deal with his right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture and undertaken not to press for the Livestock Commission, with a lot of jobs not going to Scotland, provided that he is given the facilities to introduce legislation to give satisfaction to some of his pettifogging legal friends behind him? Is not this a rather squalid man⅓uvre?

Dr. Mabon

I must deny that absolutely. That is really a squalid question.