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Ministry of Defence: Defence Training

Volume 698: debated on Thursday 31 January 2008

My right honourable friend the Minister of State for the Armed Forces (Bob Ainsworth) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

This Statement updates the House on the Defence Training Review (DTR) Rationalisation Programme and BORONA Programme following announcements made last year on DTR on 25 October 2007 (Official Report, col. 15WS) and BORONA on 12 September 2007 (Official Report, col. 122WS). The BORONA Programme will establish HQ ARRC, 1 Signal Brigade and 102 Logistic Brigade in enduring bases in the UK.

Work continues on DTR Package 1, which aims to deliver training for engineering and communications and information systems at a new site at St Athan in South Wales. It is still anticipated that the department will be in a position to consider the main investment decision in the spring of this year. As part of this work to secure contract signature as soon as possible for Package 1, a programme of risk reduction work to the value of £9.5 million has been proposed with the Metrix Consortium. A departmental minute outlining this activity was laid in the House on 29 January. The proposed activities will be focused on the property and the estate, in particular securing planning consent, and development of the training solution. The cost of this work is included in Metrix's overall bid and is at no additional cost to the department.

After reviewing further options for Package 2, which aims to provide training for logistics and personnel administration, police and guarding, security, languages, intelligence and photography, it has become apparent that the Metrix Consortium is not able to offer an affordable and acceptable Package 2 solution and, as a consequence, the competition has been brought to a close. The decision has therefore been taken to remove provisional preferred bidder status from Metrix. This does not have any impact on the department's commitment to the DTR programme, and particularly in pursuing a Package 1 Metrix solution with vigour, but it does allow the department to focus its efforts on alternative approaches for Package 2, which are not legally constrained by the original terms of the procurement. These alternatives may continue to be open to Metrix and other potential industry partners. Options will continue to aim to rationalise and improve the estate, maintain the department's commitment to its supervisory care responsibilities under the Blake agenda, and match the scale of investment in training modernisation to what is affordable. A further DTR update on both packages will be provided later this year after the appropriate investment decisions are made.

In addition, I wish to advise the House on defence estate solutions related to both the DTR and BORONA Programmes. Following the announcement to release Princess Royal Barracks, Deepcut, for disposal on 8 January 2008 (Official Report, col. 7WS), and further work on the defence estate, an agreement has been reached that, in principle, the Defence College of Logistics and Personnel Administration (DCLPA) and the Director Royal Logistics Corps (DRLC) will relocate to Worthy Down and Southwick Park. This move, which will consolidate elements of DCLPA and logistics training already on these sites, will allow the closure of the Deepcut site, currently anticipated to be not before 2013.

A decision has also been taken that, under the BORONA Programme, both 1 Signal Brigade and 102 Logistics Brigade returning from Germany will move to Cosford. This will maintain a significant long-term defence presence on this site and continue to provide the associated benefits that this brings to the local community and to the West Midlands following the relocation of the DTR Package 1 units currently based there. Furthermore, Metrix proposes to establish a learning centre and design facility at the Cosford site which may also generate other business and employment opportunities for the local area.

The BORONA Programme Team (BPT) will now develop proposals to deliver construction and service requirements at Cosford. In addition, the BPT will also draw up detailed plans and undertake wide consultation with all interested parties, including local authorities, health, education and welfare providers as well as the trades unions. A key piece of this consultation work will involve communication and discussion with the German authorities and with our locally engaged workforce in Germany and their representatives.

This detailed planning and consultation will review all possible options and will result in recommendations, including the actual timings of the moves, being made for a final investment decision in spring 2009.

The implications of these moves for our people will continue to be handled sensitively and in full consultation with trade unions and staff. However, both of these estate solutions are still subject to the appropriate final investment decision being made, after which further updates will be announced.