Skip to main content

St. Athan Defence Training College

Volume 507: debated on Wednesday 17 March 2010

5. What recent discussions he has had with Welsh Assembly Government Ministers on preparations for the construction of the defence training college at St. Athan. (321810)

May I begin by paying tribute to the excellent work that my right hon. Friend has done over a number of years and wish him well in his retirement?

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has discussed with the First Minister the significant economic benefits that the defence training college will bring as the single largest defence investment in Wales.

As we celebrate St. Patrick’s day, we should all remember, of course, that St. Patrick was a Welshman born in the county of Gwent.

The defence training college will greatly increase the defence footprint in Wales, and will lead to the creation of large numbers of highly paid and highly skilled jobs, but will my hon. Friend confirm whether it is still the Government’s policy to allow private companies to buy training packages from what will be a world-class facility?

I confirm that the Labour Government’s policy remains unchanged: bona fide defence organisations will, of course, have the opportunity to use this excellent £12 billion facility. May I also emphasise that this is the single largest defence investment Wales will have ever seen? Labour Members are fully committed to it, and I only wish that Opposition Members were equally committed.

If the Government press ahead with the construction of this defence training college, how will Ministers address the fact that a recent survey by the Public and Commercial Services Union suggested that 74 per cent. of civilian instructors will be either unwilling or unable to relocate from Shropshire to Wales because of the difference in house prices?

The hon. Gentleman is a long-standing and consistent opponent of this exemplary defence establishment, which is most unfortunate. [Interruption.] Labour Members are full-square behind it. We recognise that this will be a huge investment for south Wales. [Interruption.] It will be a massive boost for the Welsh economy, providing thousands of jobs and, most importantly, first-class training for our armed forces.

Order. There are far too many private conversations taking place on both sides of the Chamber. It is very unfair to the Member asking the question and to the Minister answering it.