The Government are committed to relocating 22,000 civil service roles from London by the end of the decade. Our “Places for Growth” portfolio is a vehicle to ensure that between now and 2030 the civil service becomes better connected with the people and communities it serves. A number of Departments have already made announcements about relocation, and further announcements will be made in due course.
I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. Whether because of the 750 civil service jobs in the Treasury, the 500 senior civil servants from the Department for International Trade or the 100 Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy officials, the Westminster-on-Tees new economic campus is set to be a busy place. Does he agree that moving civil service jobs outside London is vital to ensuring that communities across the country are reflected in national policy decisions?
“100%”, as they say on “Love Island”. My hon. Friend is completely right. We must ensure that we make use of the fantastic local talent that there is in the north-east and County Durham so that people whose voices have not been heard loudly enough in the corridors of power are properly represented.
I welcome the moves to the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Darlington (Peter Gibson), but the new joint administration just up the road in County Durham has been left high and dry with a £50 million county hall bequeathed to it by the previous Labour administration. To prevent it from becoming an enormous white elephant—a totem to Labour’s hubris in its administration of County Durham for over 100 years—will my right hon. Friend commit to working with the new joint administration in Durham County Council to explore all the possibilities that this new facility might have?
I absolutely will. It is horrific that so much public money has been misused by the former Labour administration in Durham County Council and that the people of that county have been so poorly served. I will of course absolutely investigate that, but I should say that if it was a choice between Durham and Consett for the relocation of Government jobs, I would choose Consett every time.