HC Deb 16 July 1980 vol 988 cc600-1W
Mr. Dover

asked the Minister of Transport whether he intends to set up special arrangements, of the kind referred to in the ground rules for the road construction unit action study, in connection with the phasing out of the sub-units.

Mr. Fowler

Yes. We consider that what are known as "clearing house" arrangements are needed. We shall be setting them up as soon as possible, and in advance of the detailed decisions which can be taken only when the action study has been completed. We want to implement the decision to phase out the sub units, and to follow through any other changes affecting the RCU organisation, in a planned and orderly way. A continuing object of our policy is to keep the trunk road programme on target. But we also want to make good use of the expertise and invested knowledge of staff, who have made a notable and loyal contribution to the programme.

The primary task of the clearing house will be to look after the interests of staff, whether schemes are transferred to consultants or county councils. It will be designed to secure a flow of information and advice to staff about the points which cause them concern and on which they need to know the position before they can make their decisions about their future. A particular remit will be to explore with firms of consultants the terms and conditions which they would offer to sub unit staff engaged on schemes if transferred to them.

We shall involve the unions and local authority associations concerned, and the Association of Consulting Engineers, in these clearing house arrangements: the Department is now consulting them formally.

I will make a further statement shortly about the precise form of the arrangements. But I am glad to be able to announce now that Mr. Maurice Milne has accepted the Department's invitation to take charge of the clearing house. His service as an engineer and in management, in both central and local government, includes a long period of responsibility for the RCU organisation and its staff.

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