HC Deb 06 November 1978 vol 957 cc494-6
30. Mr. Jessel

asked the Minister for the Civil Service if he will make a further statement on the policy of dispersal.

31. Mr. Hal Miller

asked the Minister for the Civil Service how many additional civil servants have been required each year since 1974 as a consequence of the dispersal programme; and what is his annual estimate for such additional requirements until the end of the programme.

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

The programme of dispersing Civil Service posts from London, announced by the Government on 30th July 1974, is proceeding in accordance with the timetable announced by my right hon. and noble Friend the Lord Privy Seal on 29th July 1977. As I advised the hon. Member for Bromsgrove and Redditch (Mr. Miller) on 3rd April, the Hardman report suggested that the dispersal programme might entail a net increase of about 30 posts for every 1,000 dispersed with an additional 30 in the short term. Staff increases for dispersal approved so far have been broadly in line with these levels.

Mr. Jessel

Why do the Government persist in uprooting the families of civil servants in the South-East to relieve unemployment in the provinces when there is unemployment in the South-East?

Mr. Morris

It is not the fact that the Government are uprooting the families of civil servants in the South-East. The Government's dispersal programme is based on civil servants volunteering for dispersal. Dispersal means bringing civil servants in administrative jobs to regions that suffer from structural employment difficulties.

Mr. Miller

The Minister referred to dispersal from London. Will he confirm that no jobs, especially in the Ministry of Defence, have been relocated from other areas than London to the dispersal areas to maintain the impetus of the Hardman proposals?

Mr. Morris

No, I cannot give any such confirmation or assurance. The dispersal programme affecting the Ministry of Defence will go forward as envisaged.

Mr. Wrigglesworth

Does my right hon. Friend agree that I and some of my hon. Friend's have strongly supported the dispersal programme under the Hardman proposals because we wanted to see civil servants removed from the South-Eastern area into other regions where there was high unemployment? Does he accept that the Ministry of Defence proposals do not fall into that category?

Mr. Morris

I accept some of my hon. Friend's points. The composition of the Ministry of Defence package will be determined by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence. My hon. Friend represents a constituency in the North-East and he will recognise the contribution that dispersal can bring to the regions.

Mrs. Bain

Does the Minister agree that one of the more favourable aspects of the success of dispersal has been that of the National Savings Bank at Cowglen, Glasgow? Will he consult the Treasury on the basis that the Civil Service unions are totally opposed to the merger of Giro at Bootle and the National Savings Bank in Glasgow because of possible job losses in both areas?

Mr. Morris

The question posed in the comments of the hon. Lady does not arise from the Question. However, I accept that the moving of the National Savings Bank to Cowglen represents a splendid example of jobs coming to Scotland. A similar example was the dispersal of the Royal Mint to Llantrisant, South Wales.

Mr. William Hamilton

Will my right hon. Friend confirm once again his intention to pursue relentlessly the possibility of dispersal to Glasgow and other parts of Scotland? Will he bear in mind that recently he visited the new town of Glenrothes, which is desperately anxious for further dispersal to parts of Scotland other than Glasgow? Will he give an assurance that his mind is not closed on those matters?

Mr. Morris

I can give my hon. Friend the assurance that my mind is closed as regards dispersal to Glasgow. The dispersal to Glasgow will go ahead as planned. As for my visit to my hon. Friend's constituency, I shall bear in mind the claims of that area given the prospect of a further dispersal programme when and if it arises.

Mr. Madel

As employment conditions and opportunities have changed considerably since the Hardman Committee reported in 1973, what calculations have the Government made about this change in employment as regards dispersal and what conclusions have they drawn?

Mr. Morris

When the Hardman report was published there was envisaged the dispersal of 31,000 Civil Service jobs from London and the South-East over the 10 years from 1974 to 1984. The calculations for those projections were contained within the report.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Let us move on.