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Barron Report

Volume 128: debated on Wednesday 2 March 1988

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will publish the conclusions and recommendations of the Barron report on defence land needs; and if he will make a statement.

The so-called "Barron Report" was a technical assessment carried out within the headquarters of the United Kingdom land forces of the Army's present and future training needs, taking into account the increase in the TA and reserve forces and the considerable increase in weapon danger areas. Much of the detailed information in the study is classified and it cannot therefore be published. Since there appear to be a number of popular misapprehensions about the nature of this document, I am, however, prepared to give an outline of its general conclusions.On the basis of the number of company weeks required to train each organisation and unit of the field army, the study concluded that there was currently a shortfall of between 580 and 900 company weeks of dry training each year, depending on the extent to which live firing areas were able to be used for some dry training. In order to meet this shortfall in full, the report estimated that approximately 50,000 additional acres of dry training land might be required overall, although much would depend on the topography of any additional land and the uses to which it could be put.The report is not a statement of MOD policy and was not concerned with the ways in which additional land might be acquired, but, in the light of the clear evidence it provides of a significant shortfall in Army land for dry training, MOD will continue with its policy of seeking to acquire suitable land which may become available, particularly where this will allow us to extend an existing training area. Normal planning procedures will he followed in every case.