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.
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 should get used to the idea that not all Government Departments and establishments have an everlasting life. So far as 533 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?