asked the Secretary of State for Defence what future use is envisaged for RAF Kemble.
It is planned to close the station by 31 March 1983.
Is the Minister aware that many of my constituents who work at RAF Kemble believe that there is a continuing need, in the light of the Falklands dispute, to keep the station open—[Interruption.]—With 3 or 4 million unemployed they need all the employment that they can get, even at RAF Kemble, so let us have none of that. Is the hon. Gentleman further aware that there are disturbing rumours that in future RAF Kemble is to be used as a maintenance depot for cruise weapons and/or the storage of chemical weapons? Will he categorically deny these rumours?
In answer to the first part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question, I have been kept fully posted by my hon. Friends the Members for Chippenham (Mr. Needham) and Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley), on the situation at Kemble. In answer to the second part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question, as he knows, the United States Air Force is examining the available facilities and, unfortunately, has not yet been able to divulge anything to me about its intentions. However, I have given the United States Air Force every possible facility and hope that we shall be able to do something.
Is my hon. Friend aware that many of my constituents work at RAF Kemble and that they are all convinced of the excellence of the institution and the good work that they do? Is my hon. Friend further aware that in an area where alternative employment would be difficult to find, a great deal of difficulty will be caused to my constituents when the station closes down?
I am conscious of that. I am seeking to co-operate in every possible way with the Americans or anyone else who seeks to use the facility.