Skip to main content

RAF Bicester

Volume 520: debated on Monday 13 December 2010

RAF Bicester has been in disposal for some time, and it would not make practical or economic sense to withdraw it from that process now. Because the wider estate rationalisation work that is under way is a complex piece of work that will take some time to complete, where it is sensible to do so, we will allow normal disposal business to continue.

Can my hon. Friend explain to the chief executive of Defence Estates that RAF Bicester has absolutely no commercial value? It is a combination of a number of historic listed buildings, a runway surrounded by ammunition dumps that have the same statutory listing as Stonehenge and a grass airfield riven by Crichel Down disputes. Defence Estates has been trying to market RAF Bicester for several years now, yet absolutely no one has shown any interest in it because it has no commercial value. In the meantime, all that happens is that those wonderful listed buildings rot. That is a dereliction of duty, so can my hon. Friend get a grip with the chief executive of Defence Estates, so that RAF Bicester can be transferred to those in Bomber Command Heritage and others who would like to put it to good, heritage use?

I detect that my hon. Friend has a greater familiarity with the history than I do; suffice to say that whatever the history, it is now understood by Defence Estates. It has now been concluded that the site can be disposed of, and the accounts and views of former owners, among others, are being considered. When disposing of such defence assets, it is essential that competence and experience in dealing with historic buildings be taken into account. Any idea that the site had any significant commercial value has, I think, passed.

It is always a pleasure to listen to the hon. Member for Banbury (Tony Baldry), but may I gently say that we must now make a bit of progress?