HC Deb 01 March 1989 vol 148 cc269-70
10. Mr. Ingram

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will state the progress made since 1979 in transferring Civil Service posts from London and the south-east to Scotland.

Mr. Rifkind

Since 1979, 1,930 Civil Service jobs have been relocated from the south-east to Scotland, which represents 35 per cent. of the jobs moved. Six weeks ago my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Security announced that a further 430 jobs would be relocated to Glasgow.

Mr. Ingram

At least the Secretary of State appears to support the idea of moving Civil Service jobs to Scotland, unlike the hon. Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Sillars) who said that London can keep its civil servants. Is the Secretary of State aware that, in the past 10 years, less than 6 per cent. of jobs above executive officer level have been located outwith London? Does he agree that one way to redress the imbalance between the south-east and Scotland would be to move 600 policy posts out of the 700 posts in the Overseas Development Administration in London to the administration offices in East Kilbride?

Mr. Rifkind

Specific proposals are obviously a matter for the individual Departments concerned. The hon. Gentleman will be pleased to know that more than 34,000 posts in various Government Departments are being reviewed for location or relocation away from the south-east. Clearly, Scotland, as well as other parts of the United Kingdom, hopes to obtain a proportion of those posts. I believe strongly that jobs that do not need to be in the centre of London should be moved outside it. Scotland, particularly East Kilbride, is an attractive and suitable place in which to establish a new post.

Sir Russell Johnston

The Secretary of State for Scotland gives us the impression that he favours a regional policy. Does he agree with the recent speech at Chatham house by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who said that there was no place for regional policy, either in the European Community or domestically?

Mr. Rifkind

I am not aware of the Chancellor having made such a remark. The Government have a regional policy and intend to continue having one.

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