HC Deb 25 May 2004 vol 421 cc1421-2
1. Mr. Brian H. Donohoe (Cunninghame, South) (Lab)

What representations he has made to other Government Departments on securing the movement of public sector jobs to Scotland following the publication of the Lyons review. [174424]

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Alistair Darling)

I have made clear to other Departments the advantages that Scotland offers as a location for public sector employers and have encouraged them to consider Scotland when they review their relocation plans.

Mr. Donohoe

I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. He will know that on 2 December I asked the same question—and got the same answer, as it happens. [HON. MEMBERS: "Consistency"] Indeed. On the basis of the time scale between then and now, I have done some analysis of the current situation and I have found that there are almost 11,000 civil service jobs in Edinburgh, and almost 9,000 in Glasgow. In north Ayrshire as a whole, there are under 900—indeed, there are 805. To make the Lyons report achievable, bearing in mind unemployment in north Ayrshire as compared with unemployment in the rest of Scotland, will he give me two things: first, will he make representations to the Treasury; and secondly, will he meet me—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman should try to secure an Adjournment debate.

Mr. Darling

I was just settling down to listen to my hon. Friend's speech, Mr. Speaker. I am grateful to him for his first point—I like to think that my answers are consistent. Since he East asked his question, the Chancellor has announced the findings of the Lyons review, and my hon. Friend is right that we need to ensure that jobs are decentralised throughout Scotland. Historically, Edinburgh and Glasgow have had a high level of civil service jobs, but there is no reason why jobs cannot go elsewhere. For example, when I was Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, one of the new pension centres was set up in Motherwell—I know that it is not in Ayrshire—with the creation of 300 jobs. That is the sort of thing that I would like to encourage.

Mr. Calum MacDonald (Western Isles) (Lab)

My right hon. Friend was involved in the relocation of 70 jobs in the Department for Work and Pensions to Stornoway. Does he agree that that is a good example of the kind of relocation that is possible? Does he also agree that it illustrates that even the remoter rural areas can benefit from the job relocation process, and that they can provide an outstanding service to those Departments that relocate there?

Mr. Darling

My hon. Friend is right. Stornoway is an example of a place where an extremely efficient former social security office is now doing work for the whole United Kingdom. Some 15,000 employees of the Department for Work and Pensions are based in Scotland and many of them are doing work for the whole United Kingdom, which shows why Scotland's membership of the United Kingdom is so important—[Laughter.] Scottish National party Members laugh at that, but their whole reason for existence is to break up the United Kingdom. Were Scotland to separate from England, it would not just be the 15,000 people employed by the Department for Work and Pensions whose jobs would be at risk, but those of the 7,000 people working in the Ministry of Defence and of the 8,500 people working for the Inland Revenue.

Tony Worthington (Clydebank and Milngavie) (Lab)

Over the next few years, the flagship project for Scotland, through Scottish Enterprise, must be the Clyde corridor project, of which Clydebank is an integral part. Great benefit could be brought to that area through the major stimulus that would come from a public sector employer investing there. I hope that the Secretary of State will sit down with the Chancellor and other important UK figures to ensure that that investment is made on a strategic basis, in which case there can be no other choice but Clydebank.

Mr. Darling

I am aware of the plans, which are already well advanced, to develop the waterfront right along the Clyde. Once they are fulfilled, they will not only transform people's impression of Glasgow but generate real jobs. I also agree with my hon. Friend about both the public and private sectors working together. That is the sort of thing that both the Government and the Scottish Executive want to encourage. That development has the potential to transform Glasgow and confirm its position as one of Britain's premier cities.

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