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Training

Volume 229: debated on Thursday 22 July 1993

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made on improving provision for Army special-to-arm and service, and career, training.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Epsom and Ewell (Mr. Hamilton) announced on 16 December 1992, Official Report, column 335–36, the principles for further restructuring the training organisation and improving provision for special to arm and service and career training. It is our intention, where possible, that such training will be concentrated in single centres with any further training done at the minimum number of wings. This part of the review is nearly complete and we now need to begin detailed planning.We propose that the training of the Royal Armoured Corps should be concentrated at Bovington, although gunnery training would continue to be carried out at Lulworth and Castlemartin. Training of the Royal Artillery would be concentrated at Larkhill, with firing training being carried out, as at present, at the ranges at Manorbier and the Hebrides. Training of the Royal Engineers would be concentrated at Chatham with a wing at Minley and some minor facilities at Chattenden. Training of the Royal Signals would, as outlined on 16 December 1992, be concentrated at Blandford and as a result the operational signals regiment currently located there would transfer to Bramcote and the defence automatic data processing training centre would move in the short term to the Royal College of Military Science at Shrivenham. The transfer of the Royal Signals from Catterick would allow the infrantry to concentrate special to arm training there with subsequent career and instructor training being carried out at both Warminster and Brecon.Training of the Royal Logistic Corps would be mainly done at Deepcut, with apprentice and catering training at Aldershot. The training of drivers would be concentrated at Leconfield. Training of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers would be concentrated at Arborfield with a wing at Bordon. This would also include the relocation of the School of Aeronautical Engineering from Middle Wallop to Arborfield. The training of Army medical services would be carried out at Mytchett. Further work is in hand on the location of training for the Adjutant Generals Corps and of adventurous training.Changes resulting from earlier measures to rationalise Army training at a smaller number of centres, thus reducing overheads, are already under way and we propose that this next phase should begin in early 1994. It is planned that some barracks affected by these proposals would pass to the Field Army, but the training facilities at Harrogate, Ouston, Strensall and Church Crookham and parts of Chattenden, Netheravon and Deepcut would no longer be required. We will be examining the potential for alternative defence uses for these establishments. It is not therefore possible at this stage to say what the detailed implications for civilian staff might be.Full consultation with the trade unions on the above proposals will take place in the normal way before final decisions are taken.