§ Mr. Paul Marsden
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will review his decision not to continue the Royal Tournament's field gun display; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Hoon
The decision to end the field gun competition runs parallel with the decision to end the Royal Tournament. In part this is because the event cannot easily be replicated in a suitable public venue outside Earl's Court, but also because it accounted for more than half the personnel resources used at the Tournament. It is recognised that the field gun competition is an event with696W much audience loyalty, and is held in special regard by Service personnel, particularly those who have participated in the past. It has also been a tremendous spectacle for over 90 years, and it was fitting that the final run should take place in the centenary year of the action it commemorated.
The event was, however, no longer fully representative of the Royal Navy or its contemporary activities. Consequently, the Royal Navy is keen to look to the future and concentrate on supporting events that more accurately reflect the training and operational activities of the Service in the next millennium.
§ Mr. Paul Marsden
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on what grounds the Royal Tournament is to be ended; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Hoon
The Royal Tournament has made a major contribution over the years to British life and to the Service charities. I therefore pay tribute to the organisers and participants who have given such great pleasure to so many.
The Royal Tournament had been under scrutiny for some time. In part this was because the event had lost money in recent years—for example, it lost £400,000 last year—and this made the viability of the event questionable, particularly given its charitable status. More fundamentally, however, the format of the event could send only a limited message about the role and operational capabilities of the Armed Forces in the modern world. Moreover, the audience had reduced in recent years and as a result the Tournament neither informed the public nor attracted potential recruits to the extent we would have wished. Despite failing to meet our needs, it still placed a very considerable demand on our personnel, a minimum of 30,000 man-days per annum. This was hard to justify in the light of operational commitments and overstretch. Such considerations led the Services themselves to conclude that the Royal Tournament should end in order to help reduce commitments.
We have thought very carefully as to how we might bring about necessary change while preserving the best of the old Tournament. Next year a one-off event, the Royal Military Tattoo 2000, will be mounted against the spectacular backdrop of Horse Guards Parade. The Tattoo, which has the theme "Defence of the Realm: past, present and future", will involve 1,200 men and women from the Services, 75 per cent. of whom will be musicians. It will be a dramatic 90-minute show, recounting with pride 1,000 years of military history, whilst also celebrating the present and looking to the future. The Tattoo will combine imaginative staging, state-of-the-art technology, pageantry, son et lumiere, lasers, fireworks and, I understand, the largest video screen to be seen in Europe. It will be held during the period 10-15 July 2000 and the planning team is working hard to ensure that the event is a great success.
A military Tattoo will continue to be held in London from 2001 onwards. Again using the spectacular backdrop of Horse Guards Parade, the Tattoo will build on the traditional pageantry that has been such a popular element of the Royal Tournament over the years and a special feature of London in Summer. A military festival will also be held outside London at varying locations that will allow the Armed Forces to showcase their equipment and 697W to demonstrate their capability in an exciting and modern way. The festival will be based on existing and successful Service events starting in 2001 with the Royal Navy's International Festival of the Sea at Portsmouth. It will last for a whole day, enabling spectators to see a wide range of military activities, view the latest military equipment, meet personnel and participate in interactive displays in a way that is not possible with the existing Royal Tournament format.