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Closure of MOD Sites

Volume 623: debated on Monday 13 March 2017

11. What assessment he has made of the economic and social effect on local communities of proposals in the defence estate review for the closure of Ministry of Defence sites. (909196)

“A Better Defence Estate” is a military-led review. This estate optimisation strategy was developed in consultation with senior military officers to optimise defence infrastructure to better support military capability. The MOD has engaged with, and will continue to engage with, local authorities in order to maximise and enhance local economic development as well as value for money for defence.

“A Better Defence Estate” will result in more than 500 civilian and contractor jobs lost in York, where the local economy is already struggling with low wages and job losses. Why is the Minister not following joint service publication 507, which determines that an economic and social impact assessment has to take place first? Will he work across Government to ensure that we can secure jobs in York?

Let us be clear that the site the hon. Lady mentions is due for disposal in some 14 years’ time in 2031. We will be following all due process. The economic impact assessment is as much a useful document for the local authority to see what gaps there may be as a result of the estate being closed, so that we can work closely with the local authority to see how we can move forward.

Further to my meeting with the Minister last week regarding housing at Ballykinler Army camp, and further to the question of the hon. Member for South Antrim (Danny Kinahan), will the Minister detail the nature of the further discussions he mentioned? What detail will be provided to ensure that those houses are released to meet unmet housing need?

With respect to the hon. Lady, we discussed this in detail last week, so I will simply do as I said I would in that meeting and write to her in due course.