§ 22. Mr. Brotherton
asked the Secretary of State for Defence when he proposes to publish the names of the 12 Royal Air Force stations to be closed as announced in the defence review.
§ Mr. John
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence intends to publish the names of the stations which the Royal Air Force proposes to vacate in the Statement on Defence Estimates. The associated process of consultation will be initiated with the publication of these proposals in the White Paper.
§ Mr. Brotherton
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that considerable hardship has been caused to many people because of the 199 statement in November that 12 Royal Air Force stations were to be closed? If the Secretary of State for Defence could say in November that 12 stations were to be closed, how comes it has taken him three months to decide which they are?
§ Mr. John
I dare say I see more Royal Air Force stations throughout the country than the hon. Gentleman does, and I am bound to say that they are taking a responsible and reasonable attitude to this matter. They realise, as we do, that the implications of the major policy decisions in the support field have to be considered in detail. We are seeking the views of other Government Departments which are concerned with regional policies.
§ Mr. Wiggin
When will the Government publish the Defence Estimates? Secondly, if the Secretary of State does not know which 12 stations he is to cut how can he possibly estimate what the saving will be?
§ Mr. Peter Walker
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that every Royal Air Force station throughout the country is full of anxiety as a result of this delay? Will he, therefore, publish the list of stations to be closed as soon as he has come to his conclusion and not wait for the Statement on Defence Estimates, particularly since, it having been decided in November that 12 stations were to be closed, it is inconceivable that his right hon. Friend still does not know which 12 these are?