HC Deb 27 April 1982 vol 22 c712
9. Mr. Bill Walker

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he has any proposals to merge the Service guard dog training units; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Wiggin

We are considering changes in our arrangements for training guard dogs and their handlers. Concentration of the work into one unit is one of several possibilities.

Mr. Walker

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Does he agree that the primary use of an active Royal Air Force airfield is for flying? [HON. MEMBERS: "Reading."] It is important that I do read.

Mr. Speaker

Order. Public confession of reading at Question Time is always a mistake. If the hon. Gentleman looked up more often it would help.

Mr. Walker

I know the question so well that I do not need to read it.

Does my hon. Friend agree that an active RAF airfield is for flying? Does he further agree that when an airfield is being shared by other units, particularly a dog training unit, which impinge on the flying training of the Central Flying School and the Central Gliding School, that cannot be in the best interests of the RAF for pilot training? Does my hon. Friend also agree that there will be advantages in wind scent training if dogs are trained at one establishment for all Service requirements?

Mr. Wiggin

I am aware of the conflict of interests at Syerston. However, the Ministry of Defence must use its available assets to the best advantage. I do not think that this particular difficulty can be resolved.

Mr. Latham

Is my hon. Friend aware that the RAVC headquarters in Melton Mowbray, where much vital dog training takes place, has extremely strong links with the town? Is he further aware that it has great support from local people and that, if he is looking for expansion, they would be happy to accommodate him?

Mr. Wiggin

I do not wish to disappoint my hon. Friend, but the future of the Army's dog training facilities will be included in my inquiry.