HC Deb 07 April 1971 vol 815 cc434-6
24. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what initiatives he is taking to ensure that more Government and other public departments move to those parts of Scotland with a surplus of labour.

Mr. Gordon Campbell

The Government intend to pursue a policy of dispersing Government offices from London. A new study to determine whether further work can be located elsewhere is in progress. The claims of those parts of Scotland with a surplus of labour will not be overlooked, though I can give no undertaking with regard to particular locations at this stage.

Mr. Hamilton

Would the right hon. Gentleman recognise that Glenrothes is the only new town in Scotland which does not have an institution such as I suggest should be put into areas like that? In view of the increasing redundancies in Glenrothes, would the right hon. Gentleman look on any request from the Glenrothes Development Corporation with sympathy?

Mr. Campbell

I am aware of the position in Glenrothes. As the hon. Gentleman knows, I was made aware of it on the ground when I made a recent visit there. It is something about which I am particularly concerned. I was, of course, involved in the decision of the previous Conservative Government to move the National Savings Bank to Glasgow, and I later attended the opening ceremony.

Mr. Ross

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the announcement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer about income tax centres will affect the proposals for Edinburgh? Secondly, is there any indication that he is carrying on the work to get the Forestry Commission moved from England to Scotland, which we were about to effect?

Mr. Campbell

My hon. Friend the Financial Secretary told the House on 7th December that the Government had instituted a review of the Inland Revenue mechanisation programme, and in that context work on all the computer centres, except those already under construction, is being suspended for the time being. We have one already at East Kilbride, of course, and it is still having some teething troubles with taxpayers. Moving the Forestry Commission is a hypothetical question at present.

Sir G. Nabarro

Would my right hon. Friend bear in mind that national policy is to reduce the bureaucracy, especially in England, and that there are eight times as many Sassenachs as Scots? Would he bear in mind that it would be wholly improper to reduce bureaucracy south of the Border only to increase it north of the Border in places like Glenrothes, and that I would strongly disapprove of that?

Mr. Campbell

I can reassure my hon. Friend, because we can achieve both objectives; that is to say, by reducing bureaucracy in England and transferring to Scotland, we can end with a lower total.