Written Answers. - Decentralisation Programme.

Deirdre Clune

Question:

447 Ms Clune asked the Minister for Finance the progress made in establishing a decentralisation programme for Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19478/00]

Brian O'Shea

Question:

481 Mr. O'Shea asked the Minister for Finance if he will make a full statement on the Government's plans to move 10,000 civil servants out of Dublin. [20189/00]

Willie Penrose

Question:

486 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Finance when the Government will make a decision upon the proposals for decentralisation of Departments and other Government bodies or agencies; if he will confirm that his Department has received and reviewed a detailed submission from Westmeath County Council, Mullingar Town Commission, Mullingar Chamber of Commerce, Mullingar and district trade union groups, Westmeath County Enterprise Board, Westmeath Community Development Limited and others in support of Mullingar as an ideal location for decentralisation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20644/00]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 447, 481 and 486 together.

As Deputies will be aware, the target for the new programme of decentralisation involves up to 10,000 civil servants and public servants and I intend that the Government will be in a position to take decisions in relation to the new programme by the end of the year. While I had hoped that decisions would have been taken earlier in the year, this did not prove possible due to the scale of the proposed programme, including, for example, issues relating to the identification of those who would relocate as well as the centres to which they would relocate. I am satisfied, however, that the Government's target can be achieved.

In view of the widespread interest expressed in the new programme and the various interests which must be taken into account, I am currently in the process of renewing extensive consultations with the Civil Service management and the public service staff unions. The views of the management and the unions will then be furnished to the Cabinet sub-committee on decentralisation which, apart from myself, includes the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and the Minister for the Environment and Local Government. These views will help inform the work of the Cabinet sub-committee as will the submissions received from and representations and enquiries made on behalf of over 120 urban centres throughout every county in the country. I want to assure Deputies that, despite speculation to the contrary, the Government have not yet taken decisions in relation to the selection of particular centres for inclusion in the forthcoming programme.

I wish to emphasise that in implementing the programme I do not intend to depart from the well established voluntary nature of decentralisation. I am anxious also to ensure that the implementation of such an extensive programme in no way compromises the efficient and effective delivery of public services. I am satisfied that the approach I am adopting to the implementation of the Government's decision will ensure that this is the case.
I can confirm that my Department has indeed received a submission from Westmeath County Council, Mullingar Town Commission, Mullingar Chamber of Commerce, Mullingar and district trade union groups, Westmeath County Enterprise Board, Westmeath Community Development Limited and others setting out the case for the inclusion of Mullingar in the new decentralisation programme. This submission, along with the many others received, will, as indicated above, be considered in the context of the Government's forthcoming deliberations.