Civil Service Relocation

Oral Answers to Questions — Cabinet Office – in the House of Commons at on 19 December 2018.

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Photo of Gary Streeter Gary Streeter Conservative, South West Devon

What steps his Department is taking to move civil service jobs out of London as part of the Government’s industrial strategy.

Photo of Oliver Dowden Oliver Dowden The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

We are committed to supporting economic growth across the United Kingdom. We have established the Places for Growth programme to relocate civil service roles into the regions and nations. That creates a presumption that newly created public bodies will be located outside London.

Photo of Gary Streeter Gary Streeter Conservative, South West Devon

I thank the Minister for his answer. Can I invite him or the Secretary of State to come to Plymouth with me early in 2019 to see for themselves how digital connectivity has transformed our city? It is not just a great place to live, as it has always been, but now a great place to work and run a business. Would it not be very good for the Government to have a Government hub there?

Photo of Oliver Dowden Oliver Dowden The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

I know, thanks to my hon. Friend and other hon. Members, that Plymouth is a great place to work and do business. A number of potential hub locations are under active consideration. I would of course be delighted to meet a delegation from Plymouth, and I know that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster intends to visit Plymouth shortly.

Photo of Chris Evans Chris Evans Labour/Co-operative, Islwyn

When the Minister is looking to relocate civil service jobs outside London, will he look at post-industrial areas, which traditionally have high levels of unemployment, as a way to stimulate the jobs market?

Photo of Oliver Dowden Oliver Dowden The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

That is precisely the idea behind the Places for Growth strategy, which is to ensure Government activity benefits all parts of the United Kingdom. That is why we have created hubs across the United Kingdom—for example, in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Belfast, Leeds, Birmingham and Cardiff, to name just a few.

Photo of David Duguid David Duguid Conservative, Banff and Buchan

The Minister will be aware—at least, I hope he is aware—of the success of the Oil and Gas Authority being based in Aberdeen, as was presented in evidence to the Scottish Affairs Committee yesterday by both our right hon. Friend the Minister for Energy and Clean Growth and the Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands from the Scottish Government. Does the Minister agree that moving civil service jobs out of London using that model has the potential to boost local economic growth across the UK?

Photo of Oliver Dowden Oliver Dowden The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. That forms a core part of the Government’s industrial strategy. As I have said, we have already created hubs in both Edinburgh and Glasgow, but I am open to all representations for further relocations of Government activity.

Photo of Jamie Stone Jamie Stone Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Armed Forces), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Defence)

Mr Speaker, you would be surprised if I did not mention the great benefits in this of the far north of Scotland: a lovely environment, splendid education and cheap housing and accommodation. Positioning civil service jobs in the north of Scotland, alongside Scottish civil service jobs, would be good for the relationship between Scotland and London, and it would help strengthen the Union.

Photo of Oliver Dowden Oliver Dowden The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

The hon. Gentleman makes the case exceptionally well. That is precisely why we are ensuring that Government jobs are located in all parts—all nations—of our United Kingdom. I know that there is already considerable space activity in his constituency.