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Fylde Coast Employees

Volume 470: debated on Monday 7 January 2008

12. If he will make a statement on the restructuring of his Department’s organisation on the Fylde coast. (175877)

As the hon. Gentleman is aware, the Department is a major employer on the Fylde coast, with more than 5,600 staff in the area. Specific plans for 2008 include moving work and staff from the site at Lytham to Peel park, Blackpool, to move work out of the Pension Service at Blackpool pension centre and to move additional disability and carers service work into Warbreck house in Blackpool.

Many of my constituents currently work for the Child Support Agency, and they are in the process of transferring across to the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission. One of the things that worries them is why the new body needs to be non-departmental. On 2 November, I wrote to Lord McKenzie of Luton, who is a Minister in the Department, to ask him why that is the case. I received his reply just before Christmas, which stated:

“It is essential that we mark a clean break with the failures of the past and give the Commission a better platform for success”

by removing it from the Department. Does the Minister agree with Lord McKenzie that the Department is viewed as such a failure that the CSA’s replacement must be operated from outwith it, and what confidence does that give my constituents?

I have to say that the hon. Gentleman suffers from selective amnesia, because he has forgotten that the foundation stone of the Child Support Agency was laid by a Conservative Government. Obviously, I have not seen the specific details of the letter to which he has alluded, but if it was written by my noble Friend Lord McKenzie, I am sure that I agree with it.