Bob Ainsworth (Minister of State (Armed Forces), Ministry of Defence; Coventry North East, Labour)
On 12 September 2007, I announced my decision that Headquarters Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (HQ ARRC) and its intimate supporting elements, 1 Signal Brigade (1 Sig Bde) and 102 Logistic Brigade (102 Log Bde) should all move from Germany to the UK over the period 2009-14 (Hansard Columns 122WS - 124WS). I explained that this decision would need to be confirmed following scrutiny of the detailed plans for the moves, and that this work would start with the proposed move of HQ ARRC and its intimate supporting elements from Rhine Garrison in Monchengladbach to Innsworth in Gloucestershire.
Today I am announcing that the programme team's detailed plans for the move of HQ ARRC and its intimate supporting elements have been completed and scrutinised, and that I have decided that the move to Innsworth will take place in 2010, which fits with the MOD's current commitments and priorities and means that the site will still be fully revitalised in the near future. The Innsworth site was taken over by the Army on 1 April 2008 and it is being prepared to enable the necessary refurbishment and new build works to begin. In the meantime we will maintain all essential services at the site, undertake all necessary works services and work with the local authorities in Gloucestershire to prepare for the arrival of personnel, families and equipment in 2010.
The programme team will continue to consult with interested parties including the trade unions and, in Germany, we will continue to engage with the relevant authorities and employee representatives at national, regional and local levels.
Our NATO allies have been notified of this decision, including the German Government as host nation.
As far as the moves of 1 Sig Bde and 102 Log Bde are concerned, I announced on 31 January 2008 that the site occupied by the defence college of aeronautical engineering (DCAE) at Cosford in Shropshire is the MOD's preferred site for the two brigades (Hansard Columns 25WS-26WS). Detailed planning for these moves continues, as well as for a series of other moves within Germany to determine how best we can provide infrastructure support there once the planned moves to the UK have been completed. Under current assumptions, we envisage restructuring HQ United Kingdom support command (Germany) in Rheindahlen, which will result in a smaller support organisation integrated with HQ 1 (UK) Armoured Division in Herford, and a discrete HQ being established in the UK to ensure necessary infrastructure support to overseas locations. All the moves and changes to the provision of infrastructure support will lead to the closure of Rhine garrison and Münster station, the latter completing the closure of Osnabrück garrison.
As stated in my previous announcement, these moves and the work of the programme team in no way signal a change in either our commitment to the NATO alliance or in our overall defence policy, nor do they in any way devalue the continued close bilateral defence relationship between the UK and Germany. Although we may make further modest adjustments to our force levels in Germany, our plan, with the continued agreement of the German Government, remains to base UK forces there in the form of HQ 1 (UK) Armoured Division and the majority of its formations and supporting units—some 15,000 service personnel—for many years to come.