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Regions White Paper

Volume 404: debated on Tuesday 15 April 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress his Department has made towards the aim in the White Paper, Your Region, Your Choice, of assessing the balance of staff between the centre and the regions in terms of effective policy design and implementation; and what examples there have been since the publication of the White Paper of the Department deciding between locating new streams of work (a) in and (b) outside London and the south east. [108574]

My Department keeps under review the balance of resources between the centre and the regions in ensuring the most effective arrangements for the development and implementation of policy. Across the Department and its Agencies as a whole about 75 per cent. of staff are already based outside the south east.From January 2001 the Highways Agency began transferring functions from London to its regional offices in Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Bristol, Bedford and Dorking. This strategy is an integral part of the Agency's Change Management Programme for improved business performance, and delivery of its 10-year plan. By May 2003, 235 Highways Agency jobs will have been transferred from London to regional locations, in addition to new agency jobs created in the regions as a result of the Roads Programme and other business expansion.The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in the Budget plans to examine relocation of public services with the aim of achieving best value for money. He has asked Sir Michael Lyons—Director of the Institute of Local Government Studies at Birmingham University—to advise on relocation by the next Spending Review.