HC Deb 23 February 1983 vol 37 cc930-1
23. Mr. Conlon

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what further consideration has been given to the future structure of the Property Services Agency; and if he will make a statement.

Sir George Young

My right hon. Friend has now received from the chief executive of the Property Services Agency proposals for restructuring the agency and for changes in its management and operating methods. Before taking any decision on those proposals, Ministers are consulting the departmental trade union side and other Government Departments affected.

Mr. Conlan

I am grateful to the Minister for his reply. However, will he give an unequivocal undertaking that the Newcastle office of the Property Services Agency will be maintained because of its crucial role in defence? Will he also undertake that there will be no privatisation of the work carried out in that office?

Sir George Young

The proposals are at an early stage and it is impossible to say which offices might be closed. The rather alarmist proposals circulated by the trade unions have given rise to needless anxiety.

Mr. Robert Atkins

In the review to which my hon. Friend refers, does he expect consideration to be given to the arrangements that obtain between the PSA and various military organisations in terms of the direct line of management for repairs and other jobs carried out by the PSA on bases and in RAF camps?

Sir George Young

The proposals deal with that relationship, and there are suggestions to co-locate the PSA departments with Ministry of Defence departments rather than splitting the responsibilities of the PSA among all the Government Departments that it serves.

Mr. Marks

Is the Minister satisfied that, where PSA functions have already been handed over to private enterprise, the private firms are carrying out the same training of apprentices and professional people as the PSA did? Will he monitor this matter?

Sir George Young

The proposals are not primarily about privatisation, but about the functions and operating methods of the PSA, to see whether we can make it more efficient and improve its services.

Sir Anthony Grant

In the reorganised PSA, will my hon. Friend satisfy himself that there is absolute fairness and openness in the way in which the PSA appoints architects and private contractors for some work?

Sir George Young

Yes. That is our policy. If my hon. Friend knows of a problem, perhaps he would be good enough to write to me.