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Regional Policy

Volume 404: debated on Tuesday 6 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress her Department has made towards the goal set out in the White Paper, Your Region, Your Choice, of (a) ensuring that regional awareness and devolution feature strongly in Civil Service training and development, (b) increasing the mobility of civil servants between headquarters offices, regional offices and the Government Offices and (c) encouraging interchange between the Civil Service and organisations in the regions. [108577]

Defra's induction programmes seeks to make staff aware of the vision, aims and objectives and scope of the work of the Department. This includes the regional and devolution dimensions. Staff attend more specific learning and development events offered internally or by the Civil Service College when appropriate.

In the period 1 April 2002 to 31 March 2003, 16 Defra staff have undertaken interchange activity in regional organisations. This compares with seven in the previous year.

Mobility between HQ policy and regionally based delivery units is a strategic priority. Defra's Interchange Strategy places strong emphasis on interchange with partner organisations that are involved in the delivery of the Public Service Agreement Delivery Plans. The scope of these Plans ensures that interchange between headquarters regional offices and the Government Offices and organisations in the Regions are involved. We are liaising with the Devolved Administrations, local authorities and the voluntary sector to seek further opportunities.