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Offices, Fife (Closing)

Volume 523: debated on Monday 1 February 1954

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asked the Minister of Fuel and Power how many of his Department's local offices in Fife he proposes to close; the estimated annual saving expected from such closures; what protests he has received about this action; and the nature of the reply sent to those protesting.

Twenty, with a saving of £2,150 a year. So far, five local authorities have objected and my officers are in discussion with them.

:Can the Minister say whether the local authorities or the trade unions were consulted before this policy was decided on? Can he further say how far the policy indicates the ending of the present system of fuel allocation; and thirdly, is he satisfied that the economies resulting from this policy are sufficient to offset the hardship which will be caused to old age pensioners and lower income group people, who will now have to have further recourse to the National Assistance Board for travelling expenses?

It is most important that we should make every effort to achieve economy in these rationing schemes when they persist, but it is not our intention to cause hardship. That is the reason why discussions with local authorities are now proceeding, and I hope that we shall be able to get an agreed solution in this part of the country, as in so many others.

:Would the Minister answer the first part of my supplementary question? Were the trade unions and local authorities consulted before action was taken?

:No, it is the responsibility of the Government to form a policy for the making of economies, but in the course of carrying out this policy we are consulting the local authorities concerned.