HC Deb 15 May 1978 vol 950 cc22-4
23. Mr. Canavan

asked the Minister for the Civil Service when he next expects to meet representatives of trade unions in the Civil Service.

Mr. Charles R. Morris

I am in regular contact with representatives of the Civil Service unions.

Mr. Canavan

Will my right hon. Friend encourage all the Civil Service unions to follow the example of the Society of Civil and Public Servants, which is firmly committed to job dispersal? Will he give an assurance that the Government's plans for job dispersal to Scotland and other places will not be blocked by a handful of senior civil servants who just want to hang on to their own power base in Whitehall?

Mr. Morris

I am grateful to my hon. Friend as he has given me the opportunity of making absolutely clear the Government's commitment to the dispersal of civil servants under the Hardman Committee's report. We intend to disperse 30,000 civil servants from London and the South-East to the geographical locations indicated.

Mr. Sims

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that members of the Civil Service unions feel strongly that there is no case for moving the laboratory of the Government Chemist from London to Cumbria and taking most of the scientists with it? If he takes into account the feelings of the unions, will he give further consideration to the issue and consider that the circumstances which applied when the original decision was taken no longer apply and that the whole policy needs to be rethought?

Mr. Morris

I cannot accept that the whole policy needs to be rethought. It has been under examination since 1974. The benefits that the dispersal of civil servants brings to the regional locations which suffer from structural unemployment can be the determining factor.

Mr. Kinnock

Before my right hon. Friend next meets the leaders of the Civil Service unions, will he address himself to the publication of the Transport and General Workers Union entitled "A Fair Deal for Government Workers"? Will he take into account the 10-point proposition for the improvement of wages and conditions for industrial civil servants organised by that union and others, and remember that thousands of industrial civil servants receive pay that is less than supplementary benefit level?

Mr. Morris

I am conscious of the policy statement to which my hon. Friend draws my attention. The negotiations on an increase of pay for industrial civil servants are about to start. The operative date for the increase will be 1st July. I hope that an offer will be made to the unions representing industrial civil servants in early June.

Mr. Hayhoe

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Opposition will give support to the Government in resisting the outrageous claims made by leaders of some Civil Service unions for a closed shop? These claims are not supported by the membership of the unions. Does he agree that many other Civil Service unions take a wiser and more responsible attitude? Will he convey to his colleagues that we should like to see the same conditions as the Government are laying down for closed shops in the Civil Service extended throughout industry and commerce?

Mr. Morris

The hon. Gentleman is entitled to interpret the Government's position on union membership agreements. The factor that the Government hold to be crucial in the negotiations on UMAs is the accountability of the Government and Ministers to this House. Those circumstances do not exist in the private sector.

Back to