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Volume 887: debated on Monday 3 March 1975

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asked the Minister for the Civil Service what steps are being taken by the Civil Service Department to facilitate the implementation of the Government's proposals for devolution to Scotland and Wales.

My Department is playing a full part in helping to work out and implement the administrative arrangements to support the measures of devolution to Scotland and Wales which are finally agreed.

Does the Minister accept that if devolution to Scotland is to be successful it will be necessary, at the very least, for the existing Civil Service Departments at St. Andrew's House to be put under the authority of the new Scottish Assembly?

I am mindful of the hon. Gentleman's long-term interest in this subject. I hope that he will accept that it would be premature to reach a firm view of the supporting administrative arrangements which are required for devolution until a clear picture has emerged of the constitutional framework within which the Scottish and Welsh Assemblies will discharge their respective functions.

What do the civil servants' unions in the first division of the Civil Service say about being subjected to a Scottish Assembly?

I can assure my hon. Friend that preliminary discussions are currently proceeding with the National Staff Side and the Departmental Whitley Staff Sides on administrative arrangements which may be involved by the devolution policies of the Government in respect of Scotland and Wales.

Has the Minister given consideration to the implementation of the administrative changes which will be necessary when Scotland gets full self-government and not just devolution?

I have indicated that until such time as the constitutional framework is determined by Parliament it would be premature to determine the administrative framework.

Does my hon. Friend agree that after the establishment of assemblies in Cardiff and Edinburgh, it is very important that there should continue to be interchangeability as between civil servants in Whitehall, Edinburgh and Cardiff?

That is a very important point. The interests of civil servants will no doubt receive detailed consideration by the House in its consideration of this issue.