I wish to inform the House that repatriation ceremonies for those killed in operational theatres will move from RAF Lyneham to RAF Brize Norton by 1 September 2011.
The Ministry of Defence is committed to recognising the sacrifice made by service personnel on operations and part of that commitment is to ensure there is a formal repatriation ceremony, which is a solemn occasion to provide the appropriate level of dignity and respect when the body returns to the UK.
For the last three and a half years, repatriation ceremonies have taken place at RAF Lyneham. The Ministry of Defence announced in July 2003 that RAF Lyneham will be closing as part of defence estate rationalisation and therefore, following a detailed option study, it has been decided that the most appropriate air base for future repatriation ceremonies would be RAF Brize Norton. This move will take effect by 1 September 2011, before the cessation of flying operations at RAF Lyneham.
I would like to thank RAF Lyneham for its excellent work in supporting the important task of repatriation ceremonies. I am certain that RAF Brize Norton will maintain the standard of solemnity, dignity and respect to our service personnel killed on operations as shown by the personnel at RAF Lyneham. I would also like to record publicly my thanks to the people of Wootton Bassett who have chosen to pay their respects in a unique and special way. It is such spontaneous public support that captures the spirit of the British people.
I am very grateful for those who have participated; such gestures do not go unnoticed by those deployed on operations.