HC Deb 10 July 1979 vol 970 cc244-5
8. Mr. Hannam

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the relocation plan for the Army pay and records office at Higher Borrash, Exeter.

The Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Army (Mr. Barney Hayhoe)

As my noble Friend the Minister of State, Ministry of Defence, explained when my hon. Friend brought a deputation from the local staff sides and the Exeter city council to see him on 20 June, these relocation plans are in abeyance pending the outcome of the current reappraisal of the Government's dispersal programme which my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Civil Service Department, announced on 11 June.

Mr. Hannam

Is my hon. Friend aware of the deep anger which was caused by the announcement of the transfer of jobs from one area with high unemployment to another area of high unemployment, after several years of substantial expenditure on establishing these pay and records offices in the West Country? Will he therefore exert as much pressure as possible to secure an early reversal of that decision?

Mr. Hayhoe

I am certainly aware—my hon. Friend has taken good care to ensure that Ministers are aware—of the deep feelings on this matter, and especially about the timing of the proposal, which came out just before the election. We hope that the announcement of the outcome of the review now being carried out will be made before the Summer Recess.

Mr. Robert C. Brown

Is the Minister aware that, wherever the pay may originate, our Regular Armed Forces are delighted with the recent record increase which they have had, but is it not about time that the members of the Territorial Army and Volunteer Reserve had their boundaries increased in line with the Shapland recommendations?

Mr. Hayhoe

I am glad that my predecessor acknowledges his own sense of, I presume, shame and guilt at not having been a party to the substantial pay increases which he now recognises were necessary. As regards the Shapland recommendations and the question of bounties, these matters are under active consideration and an announcement will be made as soon as possible.

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that the Labour Government's attempt to buy a few votes with this entirely political decision, made just before the election and too late to be questioned in Parliament, has nothing whatever to do with the Hardman report on relocation from London?

Mr. Hayhoe

My hon. Friend is quite right, and in any case conditions have changed so much in relation to the Hardman report that that is one of the reasons why the Government have announced a review of all these matters.