HC Deb 01 May 1972 vol 836 cc21-3
28. Mr. Probert

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what consideration he is giving to the dispersal of Government offices into the special development areas in Wales.

Mr. Peter Thomas

The needs of special development areas in Wales are carefully considered.

Mr. Probert

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman give special consideration to the valley communities for the dispersal, for example, of the smaller Government offices, particularly where central sites are available, as is the case in my constituency?

Mr. Peter Thomas

Yes, Sir. Special consideration is given to the dispersal of smaller Government offices. I shall be writing shortly to the hon. Gentleman about the question of the value added tax office which he raised with me and which it has been decided should go to Merthyr. Necessarily, major office dispersal is more likely to be made to large towns and cities, but experience shows that such dispersals provide significant employment opportunities over wide areas, including special development areas.

Mr. John Morris

So far we have seen no new dispersal of Government offices throughout Wales since the right hon. and learned Gentleman came to power. Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that he put the position regarding the dispersal of Ministry of Defence personnel to Cardiff inaccurately in the last debate, when he said that it was not a question whether they would go but to what part they would go? Will he make the correction in a statement to the House as he made it to me in a private letter?

Mr. Peter Thomas

Work is going ahead to provide accommodation for some 1,500 civil servants dispersed to Cardiff, mainly at Mainly Barracks. The decision about which Department will provide the staff has yet to be made. I am glad to make the position clear. In reply to the first part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question, I remind him that a review is taking place now and that a decision will be announced in due course about the dispersal to various parts of Britain of Government offices.

Mr. George Thomas

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that 11,000 jobs in Wales were to be created by the decision taken by the last Government for the dispersal of Government offices? Can he tell us how many jobs have actually been created by decisions taken in the almost two years since he undertook responsibility?

Mr. Peter Thomas

The right hon. Gentleman knows that decisions taken by one Government frequently take some time before they take effect. I have told the House that a review is taking place at the moment of further dispersal of Government offices and that an announcement will be made in due course.

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