HC Deb 28 February 1977 vol 927 cc18-9
26. Mr. Jessel

asked the Minister for the Civil Service how far Government dispersal policy is affected by changes in regional employment statistics.

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

Dispersal policy involves long-term considerations and long-term planning. The Government, in framing their dispersal programme, have considered, among other factors, long-term trends indicated by regional employment statistics.

Mr. Jessel

How can the Minister any longer justify uprooting thousands of civil servants from their families in the South-East, at vast expense, to promote employment in the provinces when there is substantial and long-term unemployment in London and the South-East?

Mr. Morris

I appreciate the hon. Gentleman's concern about unemployment in London and in the South-East, but there has been a great deal of unemployment in Scotland, Wales and the English regions over many years. The Government's dispersal programme is a measure of the Government's commitment to assisting employment in Scotland, Wales and the English regions.

Mr. Grist

Will the Minister take the opportunity to confirm the Government's intention to disperse Ministry of Defence jobs as originally announced?

Mr. Morris

The Government's commitment to disperse employment to Cardiff remains firm.

Mr. Rooker

Will my hon. Friend confirm, contrary to what was said by the hon. Member for Twickenham (Mr. Jessel), that the idea of dispersal policy is not to uproot civil servants and send them north, but to send their jobs north?

Mr. Morris

My hon. Friend is right, and I am grateful to him for making that point. We must examine the Government's dispersal policy in regard to civil servants from London and the South-East in the context that there are 31,000 Civil Service jobs involved, out of a figure of 750,000 jobs, both industrial and non-industrial.

Mr. Tebbit

In view of this series of answers, will the Minister say why my constituents who are civil servants are being compulsorily posted to remote areas or are to lose their jobs so that other people can take over those jobs in a remote part of the country?

Mr. Morris

The hon. Gentleman speaks of compulsory posting. Civil servants in London and the South-East who are subject to the Government dispersal policy must have regard to their domestic circumstances, children at school, and all the rest of it. There is a problem when one uproots them and sends them to new regional locations. The Government are anxious to conduct the dispersal policy on a voluntary basis as far as practicable.