Departmental Staff

Oral Answers to Questions — Land and Natural Resources – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 8th March 1965.

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Photo of Sir Edward Brown Sir Edward Brown , Bath 12:00 am, 8th March 1965

asked the Minister of Land and Natural Resources what is the total personnel employed by his Department; to what extent this total represents a net increase in Government employees; and to what extent the number of those employed by his Department has been offset by corresponding reductions in other Departments.

Photo of Mr Frederick Willey Mr Frederick Willey , Sunderland North

There are at present 152 officials in my Department. About half are additional staff engaged on new work.

Photo of Sir Edward Brown Sir Edward Brown , Bath

While thanking the right hon. Gentleman for that reply, may I ask him whether he will consider recommending to his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister a reduction in the size of the Government, thus saving public expenditure on more civil servants?

Photo of Mr Frederick Willey Mr Frederick Willey , Sunderland North

I assure the hon. Gentleman that there are no members of my staff who are not fully employed.

Photo of Mr Raymond Mawby Mr Raymond Mawby , Totnes

asked the Minister of Land and Natural Resources what proportion of the total staff employed by his Department is employed in London; and to what extent those so employed represent a net increase of the number of Government employees stationed in London.

Photo of Mr Frederick Willey Mr Frederick Willey , Sunderland North

All my staff are stationed in London. About half are wholly or mainly engaged on work transferred with them. They were all previously stationed in London. I should add that arrangements are being made to transfer some 130 of the staff of the Forestry Commission from London to Basingstoke.

Photo of Mr Raymond Mawby Mr Raymond Mawby , Totnes

Is the Minister aware that I am in favour of the last part of his answer? In many of his replies the right hon. Gentleman has said that he does not want more duplication, but has he seriously asked himself whether his own Department itself is not duplicating the work of other Departments? If he is satisfied that it is not, will he at least make certain that his staff is kept to the minimum and that some of its members are moved outside the London conurbation?

Photo of Mr Frederick Willey Mr Frederick Willey , Sunderland North

I am happy to have partsatisfied the hon. Gentleman. Perhaps I can completely satisfy him by saying that it is my intention to avoid any unnecessary duplication.

Photo of Mr John Boyd-Carpenter Mr John Boyd-Carpenter , Kingston upon Thames

Can the Minister confirm that the part of his Answer that satisfied my hon. Friend the Member for Totnes (Mr. Mawby)—that relating to the transfer of Forestry Commission staff—is simply an implementation of a decision taken by the previous Government? As to his own Department, is it not up to the right hon. Gentleman, as the Minister responsible for land use, to set an example by decentralising from London as much as possible of the work of his Department?

Photo of Mr Frederick Willey Mr Frederick Willey , Sunderland North

My Department will, as far as possible, follow a policy of dispersal. As to the earlier point made by the right hon. Gentleman, I can only say that, in so far as his Government were correct, I have endeavoured to follow their precedent.

Photo of Mr Frederick Corfield Mr Frederick Corfield , Gloucestershire South

Are we to assume that the extra staff taken on over and above those transferred are required solely in connection with setting up the Land Commission? If so, what is to happen to them when the Commission has been set up?

Photo of Mr Frederick Willey Mr Frederick Willey , Sunderland North

They are not all required for the Land Commission; some are needed for other work. One of the additional functions we have taken on is that of preparing for the Land Commission and when it has been set up there will continue to be responsibility for it in my Department.

Photo of Mr Oscar Murton Mr Oscar Murton , Poole

asked the Minister of Land and Natural Resources what extra staff will be required in his Department to deal with his recently acquired responsibilities for common land, glebe land and allotments.

Photo of Mr Arthur Skeffington Mr Arthur Skeffington , Hayes and Harlington

To deal with this work, my right hon. Friend has taken over from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food a staff of 13, to which he has temporarily added three to deal with the Bill now in another place, and the regulations to be made if it becomes law.

Photo of Mr Oscar Murton Mr Oscar Murton , Poole

Can the hon. Gentleman give an assurance that the staff in this part of his Department will not be increased in future?

Photo of Mr Arthur Skeffington Mr Arthur Skeffington , Hayes and Harlington

I should have thought that the extremely modest proportions that I have just revealed in my Answer would give the hon. Gentleman the sort of reassurance that he needed.

Photo of Mr James Scott-Hopkins Mr James Scott-Hopkins , North Cornwall

Can the hon. Gentleman tell us who has taken over responsibility for the Land Settlement Association from the Ministry of Agriculture?

Photo of Mr Arthur Skeffington Mr Arthur Skeffington , Hayes and Harlington

That matter is under discussion at the present time, and no decision has yet been taken.

Photo of Miss Joan Quennell Miss Joan Quennell , Petersfield

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether it is the intention of his Department to survey our common lands, region by region, as some of these are getting into very dubious and troublesome conditions owing to lack of attention by the authorities?

Photo of Mr Arthur Skeffington Mr Arthur Skeffington , Hayes and Harlington

In view of the work done by the Commission that made such a long inquiry into common lands and made such a comprehensive Report, this does not seem necessary now. As regards detailed surveys of land use, of course, which will have to be made because none exists at present, common lands will be taken in those particular studies, but in view of all the information on commons we certainly had not thought it necessary at present.

Photo of Mr Peter Mills Mr Peter Mills , Torrington

Will the hon. Gentleman tell the House his exact responsibility in regard to glebeland and give an assurance that in this respect his Department will work closely with the Church Commissioners?

Photo of Mr Arthur Skeffington Mr Arthur Skeffington , Hayes and Harlington

I am not aware that the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question arises from my Answer, but the Minister will discharge his responsibility in connection with glebeland and applications to dispose of glebeland. It is a statutory provision that is transferred to us as the Ministry dealing with landholdings.