asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the progress so far on plans to consolidate on one or two sites Army pay manning and records offices.
Following the formal period of consultation, the detailed comments received from Ministry of Defence trade unions, as well as from hon. Members on both sides of the House, local councils and others, are now being fully evaluated. I hope to be able to make an announcement on the final decision by the end of May or early June.
I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. In view of the considerable financial advantages of consolidation on one or two national sites as soon as possible, and in view of the ideal location, modern buildings and access to a large labour market at the Army office in Leicester, will my right hon. Friend press on with his plans to centralise at Leicester and Glasgow as quickly as he can?
I have always admired my hon. Friend for his wisdom and objectivity, but I know that he has an interest in this matter. He points to the good sense and economies that will derive from rationalisation. We are now having to make quite certain that the selection of Leicester in addition to Glasgow is right.
Is this not merely an exercise in dispersing jobs from one part of the provinces to another, because no transfers from London are taking place? Are not people being taken from high unemployment areas, and are not the civil servants concerned notionally non-mobile, with, therefore, no rights to transfer? What will the Department do to provide jobs in areas from which jobs have been taken?
What is happening is part of the transfer programme. Concentrating on Leicester as well as Glasgow involves rationalisation as well as dispersal. As part of the exercise some of the moves will be from locations outside London to Glasgow. That will be compensated for by movements from London.