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Military Bases (Scotland)

Volume 518: debated on Monday 8 November 2010

17. What assessment he has made of the likely effects on the future of military bases in Scotland of the redeployment of service personnel stationed in Germany. (22178)

The strategic defence and security review has set the aim of returning half our personnel from Germany by 2015 and the remainder by 2020. We are now assessing where in the UK those personnel will be located but no decisions have yet been made.

I thank the Secretary of State for that response. Could I suggest to him that, when the troops come back from Germany, and with Scottish regiments currently garrisoned in England, it would make sense to look at Scotland as a garrison base? He knows it makes sense; it is the right thing to do.

The hon. Gentleman can take that as one of the early submissions in the basing review that is being undertaken. The review will be for the Ministry of Defence to determine what makes the most sense in terms of the structure of our armed forces, in terms of where they are based according to where they need to train and operate from and in terms of ensuring value for money for the British taxpayer.

Will the Secretary of State confirm that any takeover of RAF bases by the Army will take a number of years, so we will still see massive economic and social dislocation in Moray? What concrete assistance has the Ministry of Defence already delivered to the Moray taskforce and how much assistance is it planning to deliver in the future?

The ultimate impact, of course, will depend on the future of Lossiemouth, and no decision has yet been taken. However, I reiterate what I said to the hon. Member for Midlothian (Mr Hamilton): my job as Secretary of State, and the job of Ministers, is to ensure that our basing makes sound military sense. If there are other implications—regional implications or economic and employment implications—that go wider than the Ministry of Defence, that has to be taken into account by Her Majesty’s Government as a whole.

The Secretary of State and I are both Scots, and of course we would like the troops to return to Scotland, but does he not agree that RAF Lyneham has a stronger case than anywhere in Scotland?

My hon. Friend can take that as the second submission to the basing review. One of the general points that I would make to him is that when the Army comes back from Germany, as my hon. Friend the Member for Chelsea and Fulham (Greg Hands) mentioned, there will be considerable long-term savings to be made, but we will need to have accommodation, to bear in mind bases that currently have accommodation and to assess what the cost would be of upgrading that accommodation to ensure that those bases could be utilised.