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Volume 885: debated on Monday 27 January 1975

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asked the Minister for the Civil Service how many civil servants were redeployed from London to the provinces during the calendar year 1974.

I am afraid that records are not kept on a calendar year basis, but in the year ended 30th September 1974 nearly 1,500 Civil Service jobs were dispersed from London, although in many cases the staff concerned did not move with their jobs, which have been filled by local recruitment. The figure of 1,500 does not include posts set up in new organisations established outside London under Government office location policies.

I welcome that reply as far as it goes. However, is my hon. Friend aware that in Yorkshire and Humberside, and particularly in Sheffield, we are anxious that this process should be speeded up and that, in particular, we should like a decision on the location of the Health and Safety Commission and the prospect of recruiting Inland Revenue staff and locating them in Sheffield?

I assure my hon. Friend that the point he has made endorses the contribution made during Questions on 2nd December last year and that it has been noted by my Department. Consideration is still being given to the location of the Health and Safety Commission and what my hon. Friend has said will be taken into account.

Does the Minister include in his use of the term "provinces" the countries of Scotland and Wales?

Government policies for dispersal in Scotland and Wales have already been announced. Due regard is paid to all geographical areas of the country.

Does my hon. Friend accept that recent salary awards to top civil servants, most of them centred in London, have caused great anxiety and concern in the Labour movement and among ordinary people? Will he assure the House that before any such vast sums are awarded again, the awards will be discussed in the House, so that we may debate the matter rather than be faced with a fait accompli?

I think that my hon. Friend will accept that his supplementary question goes somewhat wide of the Question.