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Officers And Aircrew Selection Centre

Volume 972: debated on Tuesday 30 October 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for Defence if it is still intended that the Officers and Aircrew Selection Centre should be transferred from RAF Biggin Hill.

Is my hon. Friend aware that this was one of the most unwise defence cuts made by the previous Government? Is he further aware that there is no space available at Bentley Priory and no money with which to build the centre if it is transferred. Will my hon. Friend reject the idea of transferring virtually the whole of RAF Station Biggin Hill and continue to use that RAF station, and its immense prestige, for the purpose of continuing to recruit the pilots that we so badly need?

My hon. Friend has consistently advocated this, and he is aware that the original decision was taken by the previous Administration. However, in confirming this decision we had to consider value for money. We are convinced that it will be necessary to move the Officers and Aircrew Selection Centre to Bentley Priory and, therefore, we shall have to proceed. I can tell my hon. Friend that the presence of the Royal Air Force will continue at Biggin Hill. In the form of the chaplains' school there will be over 4,000 RAF personnel and their families attending that centre each year.

Bearing in mind what the Minister just said, will he confirm that the previous Government's original decision was the correct one?