HC Deb 14 July 1982 vol 27 cc1032-4
40. Mr. Parry

asked the Minister for the Civil Service what matters she expects to discuss at her next meeting with the Civil Service unions.

41. Mr. Campbell-Savours

asked the Minister for the Civil Service what matters she intends to discuss on the next occasion she meets with representatives of the Civil Service unions.

Mr. Hayhoe

Plans for my next meeting with Civil Service unions have not yet been made.

Mr. Parry

When the Minister meets the Civil Service unions, will he discuss with them the representations that he has received, particularly from the Civil and Public Services Association and others, about the Rayner report on employment? Does he accept that the recommendations to cut jobcentres in areas such as Liverpool and Merseyside, where unemployment is running at 30 or 40 per cent., is nothing short of criminal and should be rejected?

Mr. Hayhoe

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment is responsible for these matters. So far as I am aware, the report would not bear the interpretation that the hon. Gentleman seeks to place on it.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

When the Minister next meets the Civil Service unions, will he discuss the location of the Government Laboratory and direct their attention to the annual report, which shows that accommodation at Cornwall House is insufficient and, indeed, offends the terms of the health and safety legislation? Will he point out to them that there is still prime land in West Cumbria on which a Government laboratory could be built, as that is what we understand they want?

Mr. Hayhoe

I have not seen such representations from the Civil Service unions, but if they are made to me I shall of course consider them.

Mr. Woolmer

I thank the Minister for confirming to me in writing that in the Civil Service the job release scheme is running into considerable difficulties and is thus frustrating the aim of taking people off the dole queue in return for others retiring early. What steps will he take to ensure that the scheme will work effectively, particularly in the Inland Revenue service?

Mr. Hayhoe

I know that there have been some changes in the rules for the scheme for the Civil Service. Again, the changes have been made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment. I am certainly prepared to consider representations about difficulties in the Inland Revenue.

Mr. Alan Williams

When the Minister meets the Civil Service unions, will he inform them of the timetable that he envisages for negotiations on the Megaw recommendations? Does he hope and expect that the new system will be operating by next April? If the Megaw proposals are accepted by the trade unions, does he expect the new system to begin with one of the major four-yearly comparison reviews to provide base figures for the future? If the negotiations and calculations are not completed by next April, will arbitration be assured for the 1983 pay round?

Mr. Hayhoe

As I said, the Government asked the Megaw committee to report this summer. The committee met that timetable and I hope that its recommendations can be considered in good time for the 1983 settlement. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has made it clear that the Government intend to begin discussions with the unions as soon as both sides are ready, but it is too soon now to judge how much progress may be made towards reaching a new agreement that can be effective for the 1983 negotiations.


Mr. Spriggs

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I believe that the Minister made an error when referring to the Rayner report. My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Scotland Exchange (Mr. Parry) raised a question about jobcentres on Merseyside. The Minister implied that the Rayner report did not deal with jobcentres, but it did, and St. Helens—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The House will be grateful for that correction, if it is a correction. I do not know.

Mr. Hayhoe

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. The hon. Member for Liverpool, Scotland Exchange (Mr. Parry) commented on the detail of the report. I fully accept that the committee referred to jobcentres, and that is why I said that it was a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment.