Michael Gove says York is a 'superb site for investment' after Cabinet Office chooses Glasgow for its second headquarters

A senior Cabinet Minister has described York as a "superb site for investment" as he came under pressure to explain the historic city had not been chosen as the base for a major government hub outside London.

Michael Gove told the Commons that the number of jobs in his own Cabinet Office based in York would be increasing by 50 per cent in the coming months, from 400 to 600.

But the key government department, responsible for supporting the prime minister and Cabinet, will have its second headquarters housing 500 staff in Glasgow. The Scottish city was reportedly chosen over York as it would do more to combat support for Scottish independence.

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Michael Gove told the Commons that the number of jobs in his own Cabinet Office based in York would be increasing by 50 per cent in the coming months, from 400 to 600. Pic of the Shambles in York

York was last year suggested as a potential location for the House of Commons and the House of Lords while the Palace of Westminster is being restored, but this idea was later dropped.

In the Commons today, Labour MP for York Central Rachael Maskell questioned Conservative Mr Gove over his plans to move civil servants out of the capital.

She said: "First promised the House of Lords, then the northern government hub, then some cabinet office jobs, hopes raised and then dashed in York, one of the worst hit economies from COVID-19 yet one of the best connected northern cities with a brownfield site [York Central] adjacent to the station and full of people eager to serve.

"So can the Lord Chancellor set out a framework through which his government determines which locations are recipient of central government jobs, resources, and projects across the piece, so we can all understand if transparency or cronyism is driving this government, and exactly how many jobs will York get."

Mr Gove, whose official title is Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, replied: "Well transparency drives everything that this government does, that and a commitment to levelling up and making sure that our union is stronger.

"That is why we're moving jobs to Glasgow, a beautiful city, which sadly hasn't flourished as it might have done under the Scottish Government's stewardship over the course of the last 14 years.

"It's also while we're moving jobs to York, the city that she so ably represents alongside the member for outer York [Julian Sturdy] as well.

"And we will be increasing the number of cabinet office jobs in York by 50 per cent in coming months.

"It's also the case it's not just the Cabinet Office, but other government jobs will be coming to York as well, because as she quite rightly points out, its transport connectivity, its historic connections, and the potential for brownfield renovation all make it a superb site for investment."

It comes after Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that 750 Treasury civil servants would be moving to Darlington to work at new northern hub. And Leeds will host the new National Infrastructure Bank.

Earlier this week a Cabinet Office spokesperson said 200 roles from the department are set to move to York.

It is not yet known where the jobs will be based. The spokesman said the jobs will be an addition to 400 Cabinet Office jobs already in the city.

They said: “As part of our drive to relocate roles from London to the rest of the UK, 200 roles will be moved to and created in York over the next five years.

“Decision makers should be close to the people they serve and we want to see opportunity, jobs and investment fairly distributed across the country.”

The spokesman added that the jobs are separate to the roles based at Imphal Barracks in Fulford.

City of York Council leader Keith Aspden said he welcomed the news, but said: “Whilst this is excellent news, job relocations alone don’t constitute a northern strategy that would bring together policy and meaningful investment for the region.

“I look forward to seeing the promises made to our city, region and the north, to level up, being delivered.”

After decades of negotiations, work began on the York Central development in January.

Initial clearance works includes creating a site compound and temporary road, clearing vegetation from the land and removing three disused buildings.