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Defence Munitions Beith

Volume 540: debated on Monday 20 February 2012

There are no current plans to change the status of Defence Munitions Beith. The weapons end-to-end initiative is working on the best through-life support solution for the MOD and industry, taking into account the strategic requirement, value for money and the linkage with associated industries. This is a wide and complex piece of work. There is a need to maintain Beith at least until the Spearfish torpedo has been converted to a single-fuel system, when the need for specialist facilities may lapse. The conversion programme is expected to be completed around 2018.

I thank the Minister for that answer. Is he willing to meet me and trade union representatives of the work force at DM Beith to discuss what future contracts might be available to the depot?

I am delighted to repeat the invitation that I made in a letter early last year, to which the hon. Lady has not so far replied, and to extend it once again on the Floor of the House. Of course I should be delighted to meet her to have the precise discussion that she seeks.

Will the Minister provide some more details on how cutting the MOD policing budget in half will impact on the policing and guarding of defence munitions sites such as Beith, and the armaments depot at Coulport, in which my constituents are particularly interested? Specifically, will he respond to concerns that the policing of those sites will have to be downgraded and that those sites will no longer be protected by armed guards or, indeed, with dogs?

I understand and respect the hon. Lady’s concern, but she is simply wrong. We will maintain effective and proportionate levels of security on all our sites, including Coulport and Beith.