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RAF Machrihanish

Volume 525: debated on Monday 14 March 2011

The disposal of RAF Machrihanish was announced in October 2008, and it will be sold as soon as possible. We are currently committed to working with the local community body to achieve a sale under Scottish community right to buy legislation. A final decision from the Scottish Executive on whether the community can proceed is awaited.

As the Minister will know, the main problem is the age and condition of the water supply system. I hope that the MOD will continue to work with the Scottish Government, the local council and the Machrihanish airbase community company to ensure that it will be viable for the community company to buy the base and use the facilities to regenerate the local economy. This is an ideal big society project. Will he meet me to discuss the matter further?

I would be very happy to meet the hon. Gentleman. He is quite right. For more than two years, the MOD has been trying to dispose of this site, and the sooner we can do so the better for all concerned.

The Minister will know that Machrihanish is not the only Royal Air Force base in Scotland facing uncertainty. Is he aware that aircraft have yet again had to be scrambled from RAF Leuchars to protect our airspace from unwelcome intrusion? Will he therefore ignore the siren voices apparently emanating from the Treasury which would put both the base and that capability at risk?

Order. I know that the Minister will want to focus his answer on the question on the Order Paper, while skilfully referring to the concerns expressed by the right hon. and learned Gentleman.

I will concentrate on the disposal of Machrihanish, but also say—if I may, Mr Speaker—that the future of bases in Scotland, about which the right hon. and learned Gentleman is rightly concerned, is being looked at carefully, and announcements will be made soon.