RAF Scampton

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons on 18th February 2019.

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Photo of Karen Lee Karen Lee Shadow Minister (Home Office) (Fire)

What plans his Department has to support workers at RAF Scampton to find alternative employment in Lincolnshire

Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence

We have had a series of debates about the future of RAF Scampton, not just in the Chamber but in Westminster Hall, and the hon. Lady is aware that it is, I am afraid, due to close. I can assure her, however, that the RAF footprint in Lincolnshire will increase.

Photo of Karen Lee Karen Lee Shadow Minister (Home Office) (Fire)

As the Minister knows, RAF Scampton is very close to my constituency. It employs more than 600 people, many of whom live in Lincoln and contribute to the local economy as well as to our communities. What specific assurances can the Minister give MOD workers in Lincoln, and throughout Lincolnshire, who fear that they will be made redundant or forced to relocate should the closure go ahead?

Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence

The hon. Lady is right to wish to ensure that we look after those workers—who are committed to the RAF—and, indeed, their families. However, as I mentioned earlier, Lincolnshire does well from an RAF perspective. It has RAF Waddington, with its intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance capability, and RAF Cranwell, with its training capabilities, not to mention RAF Coningsby, with its fast jet capability. I hope that most of the people who are transferred or moved will be able to remain where they live now, although their work will take them elsewhere in the county.

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh Conservative, Gainsborough

As a Member of Parliament representing RAF Scampton, I thank my right hon. Friend for the work that he has done in trying to secure a future for it with our district council, West Lindsey. May I urge him, however, to consider the desire of all Lincolnshire people, which is based not on emotion but on sound, grounded fact, that the Red Arrows should stay in Lincolnshire? We can provide good employment for those 400 people. The three bases that he mentioned are within 15 or 20 miles of each other. We have superb airspace and a great RAF history, so please can we keep the Red Arrows in Lincolnshire?

Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence

I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend’s determination to ensure that this place recognises the work, the heritage and the history of RAF Scampton, which will, I think, be noted by his constituents and others. It is important for the museum there to continue.

As my right hon. Friend will know—[Interruption.] Is that okay Mr Speaker? As my right hon. Friend will know, the location of the Red Arrows is partly due to an operational capability to ensure that they are serviced. The airspace is run by the Civil Aviation Authority, and that is the subject of a separate discussion to be had with them.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion Committee

We want to enjoy the benefits of the Minister’s mellifluous tones. That was my only exhortation. It is quite understandable that a Minister looks back at a Member, but the rest of the House wants to savour the experience of hearing him.