HC Deb 16 June 1982 vol 25 cc947-8
44. Mr. Dormand

asked the Minister for the Civil Service how many Civil Service posts have been transferred to the Northern region since May 1979.

Mr. Hayhoe

As I told the hon. Member on 25 November 1981, transfer of posts to the Northern region was not included in the dispersal programme announced on 26 July 1979. Details of posts that have been transferred by Departments for management reasons are not held centrally.

Mr. Dormand

What has that got to do with my question? Is it not disgraceful that not one post has been transferred to the Northern region during the Government's three-year term of office? I remind the Minister that the Northern region still has—increasingly so—the highest unemployment rate in the country. The encouragement of such transfers is one way in which the Government could act directly to increase employment, albeit by a small percentage, but is the kind of employment that the Northern region requires. Can the Minister explain the rationale behind the obstinate refusal to transfer Civil Service jobs to the North?

Mr. Hayhoe

I share the hon. Gentleman's concern about the level of employment in the part of the country that he represents. The need to contain public expenditure prohibits any further dispersal initiative in the near and foreseeable future. However, in considering the location of new Government work, or the relocation of work for operational reasons, the pressing needs of particular areas will be taken into account. As I said, statistics on transfers are not held centrally, for management reasons.

Mr. Eggar

Will my hon. Friend confirm to many civil servants, who may or may not be transferred to the Northern region, that should they take part in illegal picketing next Wednesday they will be instantly dismissed?

Mr. Hayhoe

No. They will be dealt with by their employer in accordance with the rules, terms and conditions of their employment. With respect to the law of the land, that will be the concern of other authorities.

Mr. Sheerman

Will the Minister confirm that the type of advertising campaign that we have seen on television by the London Docklands Development Corporation, which says "Why be in the middle of nowhere when you can be in the middle of London?", is hardly conducive to persuading civil servants to move, even if the Government wanted to move them? What is the Department planning to do about that type of campaign?

Mr. Hayhoe

Fortunately, I am not responsible for that, but as I said, the Government announced their dispersal programme in July 1979 and work to implement that is proceeding.