HC Deb 24 November 1975 vol 901 cc475-6
27. Mr. Dalyell

asked the Minister for the Civil Service what discussions he has had with the Civil Service trade unions on terms of employment for civil servants responsible to a Scottish or Welsh Assembly.

The Minister of State, Civil Service Department (Mr. Charles R. Morris)

When the Lord Privy Seal and I met representatives of the National Staff Side earlier this year, we had a full discussion on the implications of devolution for the Civil Service. My right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal also met the Scottish Office Departmental Staff Side in Edinburgh this September. The Staff Side has been assured that it will be consulted on the Government's proposals.

Mr. Dalyell

As an admirer of the British Civil Service, may I point out that already at the headquarers of the Scottish Office there are more civil servants than in the European Court of Justice, the European Investment Bank, the European Parliament and the European Commission in Brussels all combined? Are these additional civil servants responsible to the Scottish Assembly to be paid more, the same, or perhaps less than the officials doing a similar job at Strathclyde?

Mr. Morris

My hon. Friend has made an illuminating comment. I am grateful for his kind words about the British Civil Service, but I ask him to be patient. All will be revealed when the White Paper is published on Thursday.

Mr. Teddy Taylor

Does the Minister agree that if we have a Scottish Assembly it will be necessary to have two Scottish Offices—one responsible to the Assembly and one responsible to the Secretary of State? Is he also aware that a large number of civil servants in Scotland, particularly those working for the Post Office Savings Bank, are concerned that if devolution slides down to become separatism, their jobs will have to be sent back to England?

Mr. Morris

I appreciate the anxiety of the civil servants working for the Savings Bank in Scotland, but I ask the hon. Gentleman to await publication of the White Paper on Thursday.

Mr. Gordon Wilson

Will the Minister say, prior to publication of the White Paper, on which he stalls most of his answers, whether the Government are prepared to set up a Scottish Civil Service? Does he not agree that devolution without a separate Civil Service to take care of the functions of the Parliament to be set up would be a fraud?

Mr. Morris

I invite the hon. Gentleman to accept that the unification of the British Civil Service is a major factor and will be covered in the White Paper.

Mr. Cledwyn Hughes

Will my hon. Friend confirm that there will be nothing to preclude local government officials from applying for these posts if and when they arise?

Mr. Morris

Regrettably, I cannot anticipate the terms of the White Paper.

Mr. Wigley

Will the Minister accept that it is in the interests of the civil servants to know to whom they are answerable? To have a Civil Service that is spit between being answerable to Westminster and to the Assembly will make the worst of all worlds for them.

Mr. Morris

I accept the point made by the hon. Gentleman, but today is Monday. There are only three days before publication of the White Paper, and this question will be considered.

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