Oral Answers to Questions Debate

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Department: Cabinet Office

Oral Answers to Questions

Sir Edward Leigh Excerpts
Thursday 16th July 2020

(2 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Cabinet Office
Florence Eshalomi Portrait Florence Eshalomi (Vauxhall) (Lab/Co-op) - Hansard

If he will make an assessment of the potential effect of reductions in civil service headcount on the ability of Government to implement its policies. [904848]

Sir Edward Leigh Portrait Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) (Con) - Hansard

What plans his Department has to reform the civil service. [904855]

Martin Vickers Portrait Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes) (Con) - Hansard

What plans he has to relocate (a) civil service and (b) policymaker roles outside London. [904858]

Break in Debate

Michael Gove Portrait Michael Gove - Hansard

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for raising that question on behalf of her constituents. We value everyone who works in the civil service. I will look at the specific cases she mentions, because we want to ensure that everyone who has talent and commitment, and who wants to serve the public, has a chance to do so. If she would be kind enough to write to me about the specific cases, I will respond as quickly as I can in support of her constituents.

Sir Edward Leigh Portrait Sir Edward Leigh - Hansard

One of the justifications for demolishing Richmond House was that we needed extra places for civil servants working for us and generally for the national machine. Now that we have had covid and the civil service is so successfully working from home—and there are long-term plans to move to a three-day week and to allow civil servants to work two days a week—would the Minister accept that we no longer need all this office space in central London, and we can actually make some money by leasing it out to the private sector?

Michael Gove Portrait Michael Gove - Hansard

My right hon. Friend makes an important point. People have been working more flexibly as a result of the covid pandemic, and that is something that we would like to encourage, support and facilitate. We also want to ensure that more decision making is taken closer to the people, which means more civil service jobs—particularly senior civil service jobs—being located outside London, and that does create commercial opportunities for the Government.