§ Mr. Dawson
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects an invitation to tender to be issued to the seven NHS trusts recently shortlisted by his Department as potential partners for the Centre for Defence Medicine; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Doug Henderson
An Invitation to Tender is being issued today to the following NHS Trusts:
- Guy's and St. Thomas's Hospital Trust
- Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
- North Bristol NHS Trust
- Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals
- The Lothian University Hospitals Trust (Edinburgh)
- The Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Hospitals NHS Trust
- University Hospitals Birmingham Trust.
The Trusts were selected by my Department from an original list of 18 that had expressed interest in becoming the host for the Centre for Defence Medicine. Tenders will be due for return by 5 October 1999.
The issuing of the Invitation to Tender is an important milestone in the development of the Centre for Defence Medicine, whose establishment is a fundamental element of the new strategy for the Defence Medical Services announced by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence in December 1998. The Centre will have important academic, research and training roles as well as a significant clinical function, and will become a professional focus for medical personnel in the Armed Forces. We also envisage that the Centre will develop an international reputation for excellence in military medicine. Our aim is to have the formal Customer Service Agreement in place with our chosen partner by 1 April 2000 with a view to opening the Centre for Defence Medicine on 1 April 2001.