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Tornado Maintenance Facilities

Volume 522: debated on Monday 31 January 2011

10. What estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of relocating Tornado maintenance facilities away from RAF Marham. (36743)

As I said in answer to my hon. Friend on 8 November, all relevant costs, including those arising from any necessary relocations, will be given full consideration prior to any decision being taken. However, because the facilities she refers to are a major infrastructure installation, operated by contractors, it would inevitably be expensive to relocate.

I thank the Minister for his answer. In Thursday’s The Press and Journal he is quoted as saying:

“The costs of relocating out of Marham would be very high”.

He also described the economics of making that decision as being “not…clever”. When is he going to present a full analysis? Given the state of the deficit, does he agree that cost should be a major factor in making the decision?

Let me make it clear to the House that the primary consideration in the basing study will be the military advantages and the military necessity of locating particular things in particular places. We will, of course, have to take account of the financial climate in which these decisions are being made and their socio-economic impact. We are addressing all these things and hope to make a full announcement in the spring.

I wonder whether the Minister would care to comment on last week’s press reports that he told a meeting at RAF Lossiemouth that RAF Marham would be too costly to close. Those comments will have appalled those working at RAF Lossiemouth and RAF Leuchars, who believed that they would get a fair hearing from Ministers as they carried out their base review. Should we not conclude from his comments that the review is nothing but a sham?

I should correct the hon. Gentleman by saying that the meeting in question took place at RAF Kinloss. What I said to the Moray Task Force, whom I was meeting at the time, was that the costs of moving the in-depth maintenance facilities from Marham and, indeed, paying to relocate the staff of the contractors involved would be so prohibitive that it would potentially undermine any savings that might accrue from closing a base. The economics of moving the in-depth maintenance facilities for Tornado at this stage in Tornado’s life cycle would, as I said on Thursday last, be very questionable indeed.