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Defence Training Programme

Volume 470: debated on Wednesday 16 January 2008

8. What progress is being made on the Defence Training Programme at RAF St. Athan; and if he will make a statement. (177790)

I welcome the progress made so far on delivering an excellent package that meets our defence training needs. Work is expected to begin at St. Athan as early as next year.

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply and I thank him and the Secretary of State for their work in attracting this multi-billion pound investment to Wales. If all of Wales is to benefit from it, we must get the planning right. Will my hon. Friend agree to meet me to discuss the local authority’s planning strategy to ensure that it appreciates the sheer scale and strategic importance of this economy-changing development?

My hon. Friend once again proves why he recently won the campaigner of the year prize at the Welsh politicians’ awards for his work on St. Athan. It was thoroughly deserved. I am more than happy to meet him once again, as will be my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. The St. Athan development will bring £11 billion-worth of investment, creating thousands of direct and indirect jobs from 2013. It is the largest single Government investment in Wales and is thoroughly to be welcomed.

Is the Minister aware that, according to a recent survey by the Public and Commercial Services union, 72 per cent. of the defence personnel who are expected to move to Wales from RAF Cosford in my constituency are either unwilling or unable to do so? Is it not about time we were given some transparency in the planning problems mentioned by the hon. Member for Vale of Glamorgan (John Smith)?

The hon. Gentleman is a good advocate for his constituents. He will know that Cosford has been recommended for 102 Logistics Brigade and 1 Signal Brigade when they return from Germany, subject to development plans and value for money. If the defence community is located at Cosford, Metrix will remain committed to a learning centre and design facility there.

I should welcome it if, for once, the hon. Gentleman actually stood up and said what a good job this is for Wales, particularly given his role on the Welsh Affairs Committee.