HC Deb 04 July 1983 vol 45 cc16-7
35. Mr. Campbell-Savours

asked the Minister for the Civil Service whether he will make it his policy to establish a Civil Service dispersal policy which can benefit the northern region.

Mr. Hayhoe

The Government remain committed to the dispersal programme announced on 26 July 1979 and have no plans for any further dispersal. Regional needs will continue to be taken fully into account should there be a need to locate work in future.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

Is the Minister aware that the Government's refusal to implement the Hardman report's proposals, irrespective of the statement that he made in his main answer, has caused resentment throughout the northern region? To what extent do we in the northern region figure in the Government's consideration of Civil Service placements in future? Will we get our share?

Mr. Hayhoe

The Government made clear their attitude to the Hardman report's recommendations in July 1979. Their attitude was widely welcomed, especially by many of the civil servants concerned. The amended dispersal programme, which was announced in July 1979, is being continued. The interests of the northern region will be taken into account if there is a need to relocate existing work or to locate new work.

Mr. Arnold

Is my hon. Friend satisfied that we have a sufficient number of senior civil servants at under secretary and assistant secretary level in the north-west and other regions?

Mr. Hayhoe

I hope that there are sufficient to carry through the work that is required of them by the Departments. It is for Ministers to take responsibility for staffing levels in their own Department's work in any particular area of Britain.

Mr. Dormand

Does the Minister recall that I raised this issue with him on dozens of occasions in the previous Parliament and received no satisfactory response? As the number of unemployed in the northern region is the highest in the United Kingdom, with the exception of Northern Ireland, is that not a sufficient reason for the Government to reconsider their attitude and to cease being so inflexible and stubborn?

Mr. Hayhoe

I recognise and acknowledge the hon. Gentleman's persistence. He has asked the same question and I have given the same answer on many occasions. I recognise the problem of unemployment in the northern region, but I hope that he will recognise that, compared with other regions, the northern region has a fair share of Civil Service jobs.

Mr. Beith

As the Minister is not bringing new jobs to most of the north-east, will he make it his business to persuade other Ministers not to take jobs away from the hard-hit communities within the region? Does he realise that the transfer of senior posts from Newcastle to Leeds and the closure programme for tax offices is hitting many communities in the north-east that are much affected by unemployment?

Mr. Hayhoe

It is important that Departments should seek to get better value for money and have more efficient methods of working. I do not believe that they should artificially preserve jobs that are not required and thereby act against their efficient running. Those must be the right criteria. It would be wrong if the Government, or a particular Department, subsidised and retained unnecessary jobs in the Civil Service at taxpayers' expense.