HL Deb 12 September 1972 vol 335 cc196-7

2.37 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what arrangements have so far been made for transferring the headquarters of the Forestry Commission from London and Basingstoke to Edinburgh; how long the process of transfer is expected to take; and in what parts of Edinburgh or its neighbourhood the new offices of the Commission, and the accommodation for the staff and their families, will be situated.


My Lords, the Forestry Commissioners intend to adhere to their plans as already announced under which the move of their headquarters to Edinburgh will be completed during the summer of 1975. Planning difficulties have been encountered over their first choice of site, but they are pursuing alternatives within the city which will offer the same advantages.

It is not the practice of Government Departments to provide living accommodation in urban areas for office staff, many of whom will be recruited locally. Edinburgh Corporation have indicated that they hope to make available a number of houses to let, but this arrangement cannot be finalised before the office site has been definitely chosen.


My Lords, may I congratulate the Government on taking this step at last? With regard to the timetable which my noble friend has told us about, may I ask whether he is aware that we all regret the inconvenience which some of the Commission's officers are bound to suffer in having to move now on account of the very ill-judged decision to move the headquarters to Basingstoke in 1964?


My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for his congratulations; they are always willingly received. I can assure him that the Forestry Commissioners are particularly anxious to see that as little inconvenience as possible is caused to their staff, but clearly where a move has to be made from one end of the country to another a certain amount of inconvenience is bound to occur.


My Lords, could the noble Earl clarify the remark he made about recruiting staff locally in Edinburgh? Is it intended to dismiss all the existing staff in Basingstoke?


No, my Lords; it is not. The majority of the members of the higher staff of the Forestry Commission at the moment in Basingstoke will move, and it is the more junior members who will be recruited locally. I anticipate that about 190 members of the staff will be moving from Basingstoke and London to Edinburgh.