HC Deb 22 July 1970 vol 804 cc532-3
38 and 39. Mr. Bob Brown

asked the Minister for the Civil Service (1) what steps he is taking to obtain replacement employment for the 220 civil servants who will lose their jobs in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West constituency when the Land Commission is abolished;

(2) what is his policy in regard to decentralisation of Government Departments to the provinces, in the light of the proposal to abolish the Land Commission and its headquarters in Newcastle.

Mr. David Howell

The Civil Service Department has already begun discussions with the Land Commission about arrangements for placing redundant staff in other Government employment. My right hon. Friend will be making a statement on the detailed arrangements later this afternoon. So far as dispersal is concerned, it is our policy, to the extent that the claims of operational efficiency allow, to continue the policy which we initiated in 1963, but I cannot give any undertaking at this stage with regard to particular locations.

Mr. Brown

That is a most unsatisfactory reply. Does the hon. Gentleman realise that it represents a complete betrayal of civil servants who were rightly encouraged by the Labour Government to leave the London area, who settled down happily on Tyneside, and who have a right to expect relocation in the Tyneside area? Further, does he realise that what he has said is a betrayal of the pledges which his Government have given regarding the development areas? Will he take into account that the Land Commission was the first Government Department to be fully decentralised, and we have a right to expect a further Government Department or establishment in the Newcastle area to take its place?

Mr. Howell

The hon. Gentleman is over-dramatising the situation somewhat.

Mr. Brown

The Minister should come to Tyneside and see.

Mr. Howell

The hon. Gentleman should get used to the idea that not all Government Departments and establishments have an everlasting life. So far as practicable, we shall place redundant staff in other Government employment in the area. We shall do our best in that respect.

Dame Irene Ward

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that the headquarters of British Road Services in Newcastle does not wish to be transferred to Harrogate, and will he allow it to stay in Newcastle?

Mr. Howell

I shall certainly bear that point in mind.

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