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Ministry of Defence Police

Volume 538: debated on Wednesday 11 January 2012

1. What discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Defence about Ministry of Defence police numbers in Scotland. (88251)

We have regular discussions with ministerial colleagues on defence matters relating to Scotland. The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, my right hon. Friend the Member for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale (David Mundell), last spoke about the issue to the Under-Secretary of State for Defence, my right hon. Friend the Member for South Leicestershire (Mr Robathan) —who is responsible for defence personnel, welfare and veterans—earlier this week.

As recently as November last year, the Prime Minister said that

“there are no current plans to reduce the number of Ministry of Defence police at the Faslane or Coulport naval bases.”—[Official Report, 23 November 2011; Vol. 536, c. 295.]

Since then, however, the Government have confirmed plans to cut the MOD police budget by 50%. I am curious to know whether the Prime Minister’s assurances hold water. May I ask the Secretary of State what proportion of that cut will fall in Scotland, and whether he believes that the threats to our national security have diminished sufficiently in recent months to justify a 50% cut?

What the Prime Minister said stands. There are no current plans for the MOD to reduce the core police role relating to the security of our national institutions, such as nuclear safety at Coulport or Faslane. National security, including the security of our defence installations, is our highest priority. The reason we have so many MOD police in Scotland in the first place is our huge defence imprint, which would be put at risk immediately if the country were to become independent.

I am delighted by what the Secretary of State says about the importance of security at Faslane and Coulport, and by his assurance that there are no current plans to reduce the number of MOD police. I hope he will also be able to assure the House that the Government will never adopt any plans to reduce security at Faslane and Coulport, given the importance of the nuclear installations there.

As I have said, national security and the defence of our security installations are our highest priority, and we will do nothing that would compromise that security.