To ask the Scottish Executive whether the explanation given by the Minister for Finance and Local Government in his interview with the Irvine Times published on 2 November 2001 for the decision to relocate jobs from the Scottish Public Pensions Agency to Galashiels rather than Irvine is consistent with the previous explanation given by its officials to North Ayrshire Council.
Relocation decisions are based on a range of issues including costs, quality and efficiency of service, economic factors such as unemployment, availability and suitability of property and staff, transport issues, and the position of staff concerned. Further criteria to be taken into account will depend on the organisation itself and the nature of the work in question.
In my interview I indicated that a range of factors was taken into account in deciding where the Scottish Public Pensions Agency should be sited. Scottish Executive officials also met with North Ayrshire Council to explain the range of factors taken into account. Each case is considered on its merits.