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RAF Scampton

Volume 660: debated on Monday 20 May 2019

9. What assessment she has made of the potential effect on surrounding communities of the closure of RAF Scampton; and what plans she has for the future siting of the RAF aerobatic team. (910975)

The RAF remains absolutely committed to Lincolnshire as part of our defence rationalisation programme. My hon. Friend is aware that we have had to restructure some of the assets in that county, but we do expect to see considerable investment in the near future.

I apologise to the Minister for banging on about RAF Scampton and its closure, but I will not be satisfied until it is engraved on his heart. Can he relieve the acute distress in Lincolnshire caused by the closure of RAF Scampton by announcing, very shortly, that he will keep the Red Arrows in Lincolnshire at one of the three remaining superb RAF bases—Coningsby, Waddington or Cranwell—and can he help the local community by continuing the heritage centre associated with the Dambusters raid?

I will take those points in reverse order, if I may. First, may I pay tribute to that incredible endeavour that took place in May 1943, with Barnes Wallis and Guy Gibson? Every child grows up knowing what the RAF is all about because of what those brave heroes did back in the middle of the war.

My hon. Friend is right to point out that this is also the home of the RAF Red Arrows. That gives me licence to say, if I may, that we look forward to seeing them participate in the air component of the land, sea and air effort to pay tribute on the 75th anniversary of D-day, starting from the Defence Secretary’s constituency.

My hon. Friend is also aware that we have had to rationalise, and Scampton will close, but let us not forget that Lincolnshire very much remains at the heart of the RAF. We have RAF Digby; Cranwell, where the training takes place; Coningsby, of course, where our fast jet component is; and RAF Waddington, which is home to our intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance capability.

Well, we are certainly better informed, but it looks as though we can look forward to a good deal more banging on from the right hon. Member for Gainsborough (Sir Edward Leigh) on this important matter.