RAF Menwith Hill

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 21st June 2004.

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Photo of Norman Baker Norman Baker Liberal Democrat, Lewes 2:30 pm, 21st June 2004

If he will make a statement on the forward plans for RAF Menwith Hill.

Photo of Adam Ingram Adam Ingram Minister of State (Armed Forces), Ministry of Defence

A long-term plan is being developed by a joint UK-US team to improve some of the ageing infrastructure on the site. That may lead to the demolition of some of the older buildings and their replacement by modern facilities that, wherever possible, will be more in keeping with the rural landscape. Base authorities are working closely with the local planning authority to agree suitable architectural standards and guidelines. There are no plans to change the base's current role and mission.

Photo of Norman Baker Norman Baker Liberal Democrat, Lewes

The Minister will know that there is some controversy over RAF Menwith Hill. He accepts, I hope, that it is in the interests of and it is the duty of Members of Parliament to ensure that the base operates in the British national interest. Is he therefore content that, when I asked to visit the base, his predecessor told me that he would have to check with the American Administration first and came back most apologetically to tell me that the Americans would not allow me to visit an RAF base? Is it now British policy that the Americans decide whether Members of Parliament can visit RAF bases?

Photo of Adam Ingram Adam Ingram Minister of State (Armed Forces), Ministry of Defence

I am not fully aware of all the matter related by the hon. Gentleman concerning his previous request. I would have to look into that to find out the nature of his request, why he wanted a visit, what issues he wanted to discuss, and the relevance of all that. I will look into his earlier request, but the important thing is not to whip up suspicion about what is undoubtedly an important part of our defence interests as well as those of the US. The installation is important and, as I said, there are no plans to change its role or mission as part of the current reconstruction.