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Volume 210: debated on Tuesday 30 June 1992

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on his Department's policy on the relocation of departmental staff and service personnel from sites in the south to ones in the north of the United Kingdom.

In line with Government policy, the Ministry of Defence aims to locate its work wherever best value for money can be obtained, taking account of the operational requirements of the Department.

Will the Minister pay tribute to the city of York for its long and proud history as a garrison town and its proven track record as an Army administration centre, with the regimental pay offices based there? Will he confirm that the current investigation by the Ministry of Defence into the establishment of an integrated Army personnel centre will include the city of York on the short list of possible bases for that centre?

I am happy to pay tribute to the city of York, which has been home to many units of the British Army and has played a great role as a garrison city. It has been proposed that we might do better to concentrate the entire manning and records office in one place, but it has also been suggested that we should consider more than one location. The investigation is still considering those possibilities and we hope to report on it soon.

When will the Minister make a decision on the future of Royal Navy Support Command? Is he aware that this is a crucial test of whether the Government intend to relocate facilities from the south to the north or from the north to the south, with the possible loss of about 170 jobs in my constituency resulting from the move to Bath?

As my hon. Friend knows, we are still working towards a decision on the question. I am sore about the whole idea of moving 180 jobs at RNSC Eaglescliffe from the north into the Bath area. On the other hand, it is thought that there are great economies of scale to be achieved by co-locating all those staff in one premises. We shall have to examine the matter closely and see how the cost analysis adds up.