Relocation Policy (Small Units)

Scottish Executive — Finance and Public Services and Communities – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:15 pm on 25th January 2007.

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Photo of Jeremy Purvis Jeremy Purvis Liberal Democrat 2:15 pm, 25th January 2007

To ask the Scottish Executive what plans there are to relocate small units to rural Scotland under its relocation policy. (S2O-11793)

Photo of George Lyon George Lyon Liberal Democrat

To date, the Scottish ministers have relocated small units to a number of fragile rural communities, including Dingwall, Tain, Campbeltown, Kinlochleven, Alloa, Dumfries and Tiree. The Executive remains committed to the establishment of small units in fragile rural or remote areas of Scotland. The relocation guide that was published last year sets out the detail that underpins that commitment. I assure the member that I am always encouraging fellow ministers to identify Executive units that would be suitable for the small units initiative.

Photo of Jeremy Purvis Jeremy Purvis Liberal Democrat

The deputy minister will be aware that the list that he gave omitted a particular region. He will also be aware of the success of the relocation of the Scottish Public Pensions Agency to Tweedbank, which has produced an increase in efficiency and productivity for the public sector. Does he agree that the time is now right for there to be regional targets for relocation, especially of small units? The relocation of such units to places such as Eyemouth, Jedburgh and Hawick in my colleague Euan Robson's constituency, and to Walkerburn, Innerleithen and Selkirk in my constituency, would benefit Government and be a success for the local economy in the Borders.

Photo of George Lyon George Lyon Liberal Democrat

I am very much aware of the success of the transfer of jobs to the Borders through the Scottish Public Pensions Agency. I am also very aware that all areas of Scotland seek to be allocated the benefits of that policy. In discussions at the Finance Committee I indicated the need, in moving the policy on, fully to consider geographical targeting.

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

The minister will be aware—because I have raised it with him in committee on a number of occasions—that at no stage have any civil service jobs been relocated by the Scottish Executive to the Perth and Kinross Council area. Does he therefore share my concern that the Scottish Executive is currently considering proposals that have emerged from an options appraisal exercise and which may lead to the relocation to other parts of Scotland of civil servants from the freshwater fisheries laboratory at Pitlochry in my constituency? Does he understand that that would be very disruptive to the process of the freshwater fisheries laboratory?

Photo of George Lyon George Lyon Liberal Democrat

I understand Mr Swinney's point. As I said in my previous answer, all areas of Scotland are keen to experience the benefits of the relocation policy—that bears down heavily upon me—and geographical targeting may be an area that we should consider in trying to progress that policy.