Defence Evaluation and Research Agency

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 15th January 2001.

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Photo of Mr Simon Thomas Mr Simon Thomas Plaid Cymru, Ceredigion 12:00 am, 15th January 2001

If he will make a statement on the future of DERA, Aberporth. [143720]

Photo of Dr Lewis Moonie Dr Lewis Moonie Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence) (Veterans)

It is our intention to proceed with the implementation of the core competence model for the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency of the public-private partnership that my right hon. Friend outlined in his statement to the House on 24 July last year. Under core competence, about three quarters of the DERA organisation will be turned into a company, referred to as NewDERA. For strategic reasons, the remainder will be retained within the Ministry of Defence to carry out functions that could not appropriately be transferred to the private sector. The capabilities provided by DERA, Aberporth will form part of the new company and will therefore transfer to the private sector.

Photo of Mr Simon Thomas Mr Simon Thomas Plaid Cymru, Ceredigion

I thank the Minister for that reply and apologise for not being present at the start of Question Time.

May I draw the Minister's attention to DERA's application for Aberporth under the capital modernisation fund? That is an extremely exciting prospect for regional economic development in a rural area and will put NewDERA on the right footing. However, indications from Treasury officials are not so good. What can his Department do to get the best possible application for Aberporth so that it has the best possible future?

Photo of Dr Lewis Moonie Dr Lewis Moonie Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence) (Veterans)

I am happy to the tell the hon. Gentleman that we are considering two options for Aberporth's future that DERA and the Ministry of Defence have been discussing with the Welsh Development Agency and local bodies. The first is a gradual improvement to the runway and associated radar and terminal facilities, possibly in partnership with a private operator, to bring the facilities up to a standard that would allow them to be licensed by the Civil Aviation Authority.

The second option involves a possible redevelopment of the technical site and its expansion on to part of the airfield to form a business park. That would be done in conjunction with the WDA and would also accommodate staff from the privatised DERA. We very much hope that the redeveloped DERA facility will attract firms to move into the area and create further employment opportunities.

Photo of Crispin Blunt Crispin Blunt Conservative, Reigate

Is it not ironic that the new organisation, which is being formed in the teeth of the opposition of the unanimous view of the Defence Committee, our allies in the United States and Her Majesty's Opposition, should receive a final insult under new Labour, which, having betrayed DERA, has decided to call it NewDERA?