Move Transport HQ to the north, ministers told

MP Andrew Percy
MP Andrew Percy
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MINISTERS have been told to move the Department for Transport to the North to help shift more funding away from the South.

Conservative backbencher Andrew Percy (Brigg and Goole) backs moving the department’s HQ away from London as a way of making it easier for people outside of the South to access senior civil servant jobs.

Labour also asked the Government to support targets to increase the number of senior civil servants who were educated at state schools to counter the dominance of privately educated officials.

Speaking during question time in the Commons, Mr Percy told Cabinet Office minister Matthew Hancock: “One of the biggest barriers, of course, of accessing some senior civil servant jobs is where they are located.

“So what more can be done to ensure that jobs are located outside of the south of England?

“And why don’t we start by moving the Department for Transport to the North and it might bring some of the money it spends down here up there as well.”

Mr Hancock replied: “As you know, we are investing a huge amount in the transport systems right across the nation, not least in the north of England and in your area.

“But it’s crucial we do this in an efficient and cost-effective way as well.

“There are civil servants who work right across the land, we shouldn’t forget that, and we’ve got to make sure they represent the whole country too.”

For Labour, shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Ashworth told Mr Hancock: “You will be aware when you look at permanent secretaries, 58% were privately educated, 53% of senior diplomats were privately educated and 45% of public body chairs were as well.

“Would you therefore support targets to increase the numbers from state education at the top of our civil service?”

Mr Hancock said it was important people from all backgrounds and “whatever school they went to, whichever part of the country they come from” could reach the senior levels of the civil service, adding a programme was ongoing to try and achieve this.