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Defence Business Services

Volume 718: debated on Monday 18 July 2022

The hon. Gentleman has raised this with me on more than one occasion previously. I know that it matters greatly to his constituents. As announced back in 2016, Defence Business Services will consolidate its north-west estate into a single location. Last year, a thorough multi-criteria decision analysis was undertaken, which considered a number of locations and recommended consolidation in Blackpool. The full business case is being considered within the approvals process. I expect to make an announcement soon, and will write to the Members representing the constituencies affected.

I thank the Minister for Defence Procurement for his answer, and for procuring some continuity in the Government, against the odds, by remaining in his post during this crucial time. Will he consider bringing the hubs in Liverpool and Manchester into the Defence Business Services workplace programme solution to avoid compulsory redundancies?

What I can say is that in locating to Blackpool, as was recommended, we will do our utmost to avoid compulsory redundancies. There is a good working relationship at a local level with the trade unions, which are doing well to represent their members. There is an absolute expectation on our part that we will maximise the ability to work flexibly, with things such as deferred moves and everything else we can do to support our employees. This move was designed not to cut posts, but as an estate rationalisation scheme. That is at the back and the front of our minds, and we will work with the trade unions and our employees to ensure as few redundancies as can possibly be managed.

I thank the Minister for moving so many of the jobs to Blackpool and to my constituency—yet one more to add to my list of wonderful things the Government have done for the town of Blackpool. Will he encourage all Government Departments, not just the MOD, to share his vision and his confidence in the people of my constituency?

I know we are not alone in putting Government jobs into Blackpool; it is a popular location, and it was entirely driven by the intensive work we did on finding the best location. I can reassure my hon. Friend and this House that we undertook a very serious bit of work looking at all available options, and the recommendation of Blackpool emerged as a result of that serious analysis.