UK Government announces 1,000 new civil service jobs in Scotland
THE UK Government has unveiled plans for 1,000 new civil service jobs in Scotland over the next year.
More than 500 Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office staff will be added to the department’s existing base in East Kilbride, while another 500 will head to new Cabinet Office headquarters in Glasgow.
Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove himself has committed to working part time from Glasgow. He said it was about ending the “Westminster knows best approach”.
Speaking to journalists after the announcement, the Conservative frontbencher said his department’s role was to be “the engine room of government, making sure that we work with the Scottish Government, with local government, civil society and business in order to ensure that we have the most effective recovery from COVID possible.”
He added: “There are a range of issues where we'll be working with the Scottish Government, particularly, of course, in making sure that we can help to tackle some of the enduring health problems that the COVID pandemic has made worse, and also making sure that we work together critically on an sustainable economic recovery, and part of that, of course, is with COP26 in Glasgow, later this year.”
Gove was also asked about the UK Government’s post-Brexit replacement for European structural funding.
Money from Brussels was previously handed to Holyrood to be spent but, under the new scheme, will instead be controlled by UK Government ministers in Whitehall.
The SNP has said this undermines devolution and described it as a “power grab”.
But Gove said it was “devolution in ins truest sense”.
He added: “We absolutely respect the devolution settlement, but the purpose of devolution is to ensure that people can benefit both from a Scottish Government and the UK Government. SNP policy would see that double benefit disappear.”
During the session, Gove was also pushed on a second independence referendum. Despite reports last week suggesting the Prime Minister would use his speech to the Tory party conference on Sunday to rule out a new vote, he did not do so.
Gove side-stepped the question.
“My view is that parties that want to talk about or raise the prospect of a second independence referendum, are ultimately diverting our energy from the need to work together and just at the moment when we should all be working together. I think that policies that are designed to generate division are not a good idea,” he said.
Asked again, he added: “We've been clear that the most important thing at the moment is to concentrate on our health recovery, and our economic recovery, and it seems to me that talk of an independence referendum at the moment is just a momentous distraction from that.”
Gove said people were “far more interested in what's happening in their children's schools than they are in potential legislation for a potential referendum and the one thing we are certain of is it would only detract attention from those issues that really matter.”
The Tory added: “We still have the Scottish elections to run. Let's see what the arguments are that are made there. I don't want to prejudge the outcome, I hope as many people as possible vote for the Scottish Conservatives and for Douglas Ross, but it will be a choice for people in Scotland, and I don't think any of us should pre-empt what their choice is.”
The SNP was sceptical over the jobs announcement. It said that more than 7,000 civil service jobs had been axed by the UK Government over the last 11 years.
“Today’s announcement is a drop in the ocean against the backdrop of these widescale cuts,” SNP MSP George Adam said.