Defence Estate

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:24 pm on 7th November 2016.

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Photo of Michael Fallon Michael Fallon The Secretary of State for Defence 5:24 pm, 7th November 2016

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for what I think was a welcome for the statement, as it showed an understanding of the task in front of us. The Ministry of Defence owns, I think, around 1,000 sites, 300 of which are very large. Today, I am announcing the disposal of 56 of those 300 large sites. Yes, it is a large number of disposals, but each one is based on military advice on how the capabilities that the armed forces need can be better clustered, and on how the families of those who work for us can be better looked after in terms of job opportunities for their partners and more stability for their children.

On the civilian employees, we will provide them with as much support as possible. In the document itself—I appreciate that the House will not have had time to go through this yet—we set out a timescale for the disposal of each of those sites. In many cases, it will be over 10 or 15 years hence. Yes, we will seek the best possible value for money for the taxpayer, but, in the end, this is not just for the taxpayer. The answer to the hon. Lady’s sixth question is that all of the receipts—not just some of them—will come back into the defence budget, which shows that we have every interest in maximising the value from the sites that are to be disposed of so that we can get on and spend the money not just on our other defence priorities, but on modernising the estate that we are going to keep.

On the 50,000 homes, yes, we do need to build more houses where they are needed most, and that includes in the south and south-west of England where there are sites to release. We do not entirely control the planning process, but with regard to affordable homes, it is for the local authority to specify exactly what proportion of the estates those homes should have.