HC Deb 16 February 1983 vol 37 cc290-2
56. 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 have told the hon. Member on many previous occasions, the dispersal programme announced on 26 July 1979 did not include any transfer of posts to the northern region. Details of posts that may have been transferred by Departments for management reasons are not held centrally.

Mr. Dormand

So the answer is none. For how long will the Government be so obstinate on this matter? If the Government are so concerned about the northern region, as they often say they are, why do they not use the power that is in their hands to transfer jobs to the north? If the Government will not do that, will they at least stop taking jobs away from the north by transferring the regional offices to other parts of the country?

Mr. Hayhoe

It is important to recognise that the need to contain public expenditure prohibits any further dispersal initiative in the forseeable future. That is the same answer as I have given to the hon. Gentleman previously, but he asked the same question.

Mr. Hal Miller

Does the Minister agree that if the Departments were charged rent for the premises that they occupy Ministers might revise their thinking about the amount of office accommodation they think they need in central London and there might also be a saving in public expenditure?

Mr. Hayhoe

My hon. Friend raises an important matter. Account should be taken of the rents of premises. Repayment arrangements of the kind that he described are now being put in place.

Mr. Charles R. Morris

While the Minister will not transfer existing Civil Service posts to the regions, may I ask him whether he is aware that in the Telecommunications Bill there is provision for the establishment of what will be the largest single quango of all time, the Office of Telecommunications? Will he consult his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry about locating that office in one of the regions?

Mr. Hayhoe

I shall draw the right hon. Gentleman's remarks to the attention of my right hon. Friend. Perhaps he will make sure that the Bill proceeds at proper speed and is not delayed by the curious tactics that have been used by some of his hon. Friends.

Mr. Robert C. Brown

More to the point, how many Civil Service jobs have been transferred out of the northern region by the transfer of regional offices by various Government Departments to Leeds? Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that the latest proposition to relocate the Property Services Agency from Newcastle to Leeds is nothing short of ludicrous? The Government should think again.

Mr. Hayhoe

I do not have that figure available, but I will certainly write to the hon. Gentleman, if I can find it.