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British Army in Wales Post Covid

Volume 696: debated on Monday 24 May 2021

What steps his Department is taking to strengthen the British Army in Wales after the covid-19 outbreak. (900379)

The Army has organised and conducted more than 74,000 tests, 11,000 ambulance responses and almost 70,000 covid vaccine inoculations in Wales over the past year. As we build on our close relationship with Welsh society, we remain committed to relocating a major regular Army unit to Wales, and the Ministry of Defence continues to examine the options to locate a second major unit to Wales as well.

The Welsh element of Operation Rescript, the Army’s response to the covid-19 outbreak, was stood up from Brecon barracks, as the Minister has described. From there, in conjunction with a large family of defence partners, Brigadier Andrew Dawes has overseen more than 1,200 service personnel across the three services who have been working tirelessly in support of the NHS in Wales. I particularly want to thank the members of the RAF who joined us at the vaccination centres in Builth Wells and Bronllys. Does the Minister agree that this recent activity serves to underline the operational importance of the barracks and further weakens the case to close it in 2027?

Brecon and, indeed, the 160th Welsh Brigade are fortunate to have such an outstanding local representative making their case in Parliament. My hon. Friend is absolutely right to pay tribute to all the amazing work that they have done in supporting the covid response in Wales. I know that, as a result of all her hard work campaigning on this matter, she was delighted to hear confirmation from my hon. Friend the Minister for Defence Procurement that the brigade HQ will remain in Brecon.

The Ministry of Defence is committed to continuing to ensure that regular Army units are retained in Wales, alongside what is a fantastic and well-used training estate, including that in and around Brecon, and I know that her constituents can have every confidence that she will continue to make that case should we ever forget it.