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Government Departments And Public Authorities

Volume 884: debated on Wednesday 22 January 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many Government Departments, or public authorities, with United Kingdom responsibilities have established their headquarters in Scotland over the last five years.

A headquarters unit of the National Savings Bank has been established in Glasgow and the headquarters of the Offshore Supplies Office of the Department of Energy has been transferred there. The Forestry Commission headquarters will move to Edinburgh in the course of this year, and we have announced that the British National Oil Corporation will be set up in Scotland.

I am sure that the whole House will welcome these very real and meaningful forms of devolution in terms of employment and decision making.

Will the Secretary of State confirm the report in today's Glasgow Herald that the Government have decided to set up the Scottish assembly at the former Royal High School in Edinburgh? If that is the case, will he inform the House whether the Government will provide meaningful facilities to Edinburgh Cor poration to ensure a new home for Edinburgh Art Gallery?

I have seen those reports. It is true that we are looking closely at the whole question of the siting of the assembly, but no decision about any particular building has been taken, provisionally or otherwise.

Is any planning going on for the necessary changes in staffing and accommodation generally, apart from houses which will be necessary when the assembly is set up in Scotland?

The right hon. Gentleman can take it that all the practical aspects and implications of this matter are being given consideration.

With regard to the devolution of jobs, will the Secretary of State say whether he dissociates himself from the published views of William Kendall, the General Secretary of the Civil and Public Services Association, that devolution to a Scottish assembly will reduce the effectiveness of the British Civil Service?

I am sure that we do not want to introduce anything which would reduce the effectiveness of the British Civil Service—

—the Civil Service, shall we call it? Its effectivenes is related to all those ways in which an assembly or Parliament is able adequately to utilise its services in the policies which are pursued.