HC Deb 18 December 1973 vol 866 cc1132-3
18. Mr. Money

asked the Minister of State for Defence what progress has been made in expediting the construction of Services married quarters and in particular the review of surplus land held by the Ministry of Defence in Gibraltar as recommended by the Third Report of the Expenditure Committee.

Mr. Ian Gilmour

Since publication of the recommendations of the Third Report of the Expenditure Committee, invitations to tender for 136 married quarters have been issued. It is hoped to start construction in May 1974.

The use of all land held by the Ministry of Defence in Gibraltar has been reviewed locally and the results of this review are now being examined by the Ministry of Defence and the Property Services Agency.

Mr. Money

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the extreme importance which the Gibraltar Government and the Gibraltar people place on the early relinquishing of MoD-held land and buildings which are no longer required for defence purposes? Is he aware of the need for Gibraltar to expand economic activity in the private sector to combat Spanish economic restrictions?

Mr. Gilmour

I agree that this is an important matter. However, there were over 100 sites to be examined. That could not be done immediately. We are looking at the results of the report.

Sir John Tilney

Taking into account how bad some of the married quarters are in Gibraltar, and the cost and the length of time taken to build permanent married quarters, will my hon. Friend consider the use of more mobile homes?

Mr. Gilmour

We are considering the possibility of improving the married quarters which are already there. We shall take advantage of my hon. Friend's suggestion and consider it.

Mr. Jeffrey Archer

Does my hon. Friend realise that in my constituency, at the station of North Coates, there are 240 married quarters which have not been used for the past three years? Will he make an early announcement about what will happen to that station?

Mr. Gilmour

This matter has come up on a number of occasions during previous Defence Questions. I do not think that my hon. Friend's constituency has much to do with Gibraltar.