HC Deb 02 April 1973 vol 854 cc22-3
18. Mr. Harold Walker

asked the Minister for the Civil Service when he now expects to publish the report of the Hardman Committee on Civil Service dispersal.

Mr. Kenneth Baker

As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister told my hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, West (Mr. Sutcliffe) on 22nd February, we expect to publish the report in due course and to announce decisions on it during the summer, after consultations with staff representatives.—[Vol. 851, c. 173–4.]

Mr. Walker

When the Government prepare their response to the report, will they bear in mind the long-standing resentment that has been felt in many areas of high unemployment that so many civil servants, whose jobs are generated directly by taxpayers' money, should be concentrated in London? Will he also bear in mind that South Yorkshire is one of the few areas that have not so far benefited from the de-centralisation of Government functions, and that new jobs of this kind would be a welcome offset, in this area, to the present high unemployment, which is a result of its over-dependence on heavy and often declining industry?

Mr. Baker

Only three out of 10 civil servants work in London. The rest work in the various regions. I give the assurance that Yorkshire and Humberside have been considered, as have all the other regions, by Sir Henry Hardman.

Mr. Wilkinson

The Yorkshire and Humberside area has one of the lowest proportions of population in the public service in the country. Therefore, if the economy is to be more broadly based in that region it would be a good thing if Government offices were dispersed to a greater extent to Yorkshire and Humberside.

Mr. Baker

I shall bear my hon. Friend's views in mind.

Mr. McGuire

What criteria will determine the dispersal of Government offices in the provinces and determine what area gets what Departments?

Mr. Baker

The whole purpose of the Hardman exercise was to balance the gain to the regions of dispersal and the loss to the efficiency of the central Government machine. The criteria that the Hardman Committee considered were the size of the area, whether there were sufficient school leavers to sustain steady recruitment for the Civil Service, the housing situation, and things of that kind.